Supermarkets are a strange yet very efficient way to get to know a country. The range of products on sale says a lot about a cuisine. Looking at the size of the containers, the provenance of fresh goods, the packaging, even the offers is like a peephole into the local culture.
Moreover, it’s just very interesting to get to know foods and other products you didn’t hear of before and it’s a cheap yet often yummy way to take home a souvenir. Of course, what you should buy thus depends on which country you’re visiting.
Today we’ll be talking about French supermarkets. They might not be as huge as American ones nor as exotic as some others yet we all know the French cuisine’s reputation. A lot of people consider it as one of the most refined in the world and for the French, eating well is something they don’t even have to think about. Delicacies are everywhere, so why not consume them, right? To make your life a little easier we made a list of ten items you should definitely consider buying when in France.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer this one but French cheeses are just some of the best in the world. Whether you go for a Camembert (always choose the one with raw milk), Comté or Brie is up to you.
This one isn’t exactly fit for veggies yet we can’t exclude rillettes. The canned, shredded meat is the perfect accompaniment for any apéro and you can find it in all sorts of varieties – from duck to pork and everything in between.
Seems a bit random but hear us out. Some of the most renowned clementines come from Corsica, which happens to be part of France. Therefore, it’s no surprise it’s quite easy to find this fruit in any French supermarket.
4. Fleur de sel
If you’ve ever used some kind of fancy shmancy cookbook, you’ll know fleur de sel. It might seem stupid to put your money towards salt – which it essentially is – yet the devil is in the detail. The salt appears like a thin, flower-patterned shape on the surface of the seawater during the evaporation process and has been harvested since ancient times. Perfect to make a good steak or to impress your dinner guests.
When visiting a French bar, you might have noticed it’s quite common not to order a regular soft drink, but a glass of water with some syrup instead. It’s cheaper, takes less transportation effort and it’s quite honestly just a local tradition. The range of syrups in most supermarkets is therefore huge. Opt for regular strawberry or go wild and buy some sirop d’orgeat, made from almonds.
6. Petit Suisse
When looking at it, you might think Petit Suisse is like some kind of yoghurt yet you’re wrong. It’s actually an un-ripened, unsalted, smooth, and creamy cheese which finds it origins in Normandy. It’s a very popular dessert in France but you could also easily consume it as a small breakfast. Serve with any toppings you like.
7. Farine de sarassin
If you’ve ever been to Brittany or Normandy, you’ll know there’s a difference between salted and sweet crêpes – the first ones are often called galettes and are made with farine de sarassin aka black flour. It’s hard to explain what difference it makes exactly but believe us, it’s worth a shot.
Especially in the South of France, pastis is more than just a beverage. It’s an institution, a way of life. Under the plane trees, people are playing a pétanque game while enjoying their glass of pastis, more often than not diluted with ice and water. It’s an anise-flavored drink which will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea but you have to try it at least once.
9. Salted caramel
Salted caramel is one of those things which has become a trend fairly recently but which has been part of the French cuisine for a very long time – in France, it’s called caramel au beurre salé. You’ll be able to find it in all kinds of forms, ranging from a spread over candy to ice cream. The best one is found in Brittany and Normandy, where you’ll often find it as an accompaniment to crêpes.
10. Le Parfait
Let’s finish off with something that doesn’t really belong in the food department as is. If you like to make your own condiments or jams, you’ll certainly know the famous jar brand Le Parfait. Which isn’t always as easy to come across. Yet good news, you’ll find them in almost every French supermarket and in different sizes too. If making your own jam isn’t really your thing, the pre-made jam department in France is a whole thing too.