Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

Idiosyncrasies of the French

Flour in France, by Penne Cole

Flour in France, by Penne Cole

When I travel, one of the things I love doing is going to the local supermarket. They offer a fascinating insight into local habits and preferences. Living in a country, and making repeated trips to the supermarket, only make these, sometimes subtle, clues more apparent.

I’m currently living in France, and here are some of the things I’ve discovered about the French:

1. The French have a love affair with baking

The French adore baking and are apparently all masters at their craft. In every other country I’ve lived in, the choice of flour in the supermarket is typically limited to all-purpose, self raising, possibly high-protein bread flour, and maybe some wholemeal flour. In France, though, these simple types of flour just won’t do. There are speciality flours for making baguettes, and another one for crepes. There is “fluid” flour (farine de ble fluide), and flour that is guaranteed not to be lumpy when mixed with liquid (garantie anti-grumeaux – perfect for crepes and for thickening gravy, I’ve found). There are confusing numbers on the packaging, ranging from 45 to 150. There is also what appears to be black flour (farine de ble noir).

The first time I ventured into the flour aisle (yes, they have an entire side of one aisle dedicated to flour in Carrefour), I was floored. On the hunt for some plain flour for my breakfast muffins, I was unprepared for the bewildering array of choices, and didn’t have a clue which type I should get. Fortunately, Irish Herault’s post on the different types of French flour managed to clear things up.

2. The French love horse meat

Horse meat in France, by Penne Cole

Horse meat in France, by Penne Cole

Ikea’s horse meat scandal has prompted the company to pull its popular meatballs off the menu around the world. But the French must have reacted to the brouhaha with amusement. After all, they like their horse meat enough for Carrefour to dedicate an entire section of their chiller to it. Now if Scrummy Yummy were living here, they wouldn’t have such trouble sourcing a local supplier. I must admit, though, that I haven’t been as brave as the team at Scrummy Yummy, and I haven’t actually tried it yet. Camel, though, is another story for another time…

3. The French love foie gras

Foie gras, by Penne Cole

Foie gras, by Penne Cole

All the international outrage about foie gras and California’s ban on this French delicacy doesn’t seem to have affected the status quo here in France at all. The industry is still alive and well, and the French can easily get giant hunks of fatty duck- and goose-liver from the supermarket. I must say (and don’t hate me for saying it) that I’m with The Hungry Goddess on this one – I support your right to choose whether you eat foie gras or not. Vote with your wallet, and the French are clearly voting yes.


What does your local supermarket say about you?

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2013 by in Europe, Food, France, Travel and tagged , , .
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