Monday, 24 September 2012

A little bit of France in a box

When you live the expat life, what you miss the most, apart from the family and friends is surely the food. You start missing your favourite products and even things you wouldn’t normally eat.

Believe it or not, while I was traveling the world in 2010, I had salt and vinegar Tayto crips cravings more than Camembert ones!

When I was living in France I wasn’t a big cheese eater. I enjoyed it of course, but could easily live a few days or weeks without. It wasn’t until  I moved to Ireland that I really came to think about French food. Food being a central element of French culture, I suppose eating French food abroad brings me closer to my native land.

Recently, one of my friends got a parcel from France full of food sent by her mum for her birthday. I got pretty jealous and so requested my mum to do the same.  I’ve been living in Ireland almost 8 years and I’ve never received a parcel of food until yesterday.I got so excited at the sight of the parcel, like a kid about to open a Christmas present.

My parents retired in one of the most rural areas of France, in a region called Auvergne. Living in a tiny village, they buy mostly locally from the artisan producers. So here I’ll give you a little introduction to the products I had in the parcel.

First were 2 saucissons “La Correze gourmande” bought at the local market. Saucisson is a thick, dry cured sausage usually eaten while having drinks before a meal (l’Apéritif).

My mum also bought homemade duck “rillettes” at her local market. It’s made from duck meat and prepared with salt and fat. People usually spread it on warm rustic bread.

My parents buy their cheeses and crème fraiche at their local dairy farm. They sent 2 huge pieces of cheese. The first cheese, Cantal Vieux was aged for 8 months. It’s a hard cheese a bit like mature cheddar but with a stronger taste. The second cheese Tome de Rilhac made only in this dairy farm called Duroux Fromagerie.

I also received a jar of hazelnut spread bought at the local bee farm. It’s made with 70% honey and 30% hazelnut. I had never tasted this before but found it to be delicious and sweet.

Last but not least, I got wild mushrooms, hand picked by my lovely parents in the woods next to their house. They love mushroom picking and even get competitive with each other. My mum sent dried “trompettes de la mort” (Black trumpets mushrooms). They pick so much every year that they have to dry and store them. It’s lovely to use in the sauces for meaty dishes. I also got a jar of Cep mushrooms, one of my favourite kind of mushroom. I love their smell, it reminds me of when I was a child and going mushroom picking with my parents.

So now I know how Irish expats feel on receipt of a parcel full of Cadbury chocolate, Tayto crisps and Barrys tea. It’s not just the food, its also about getting a little bit of home in a box. Thinking about how the one you care for gently placed the items into the box, with all their love, wishing you were living closer.
Merci Maman!

Want to learn more about the region I talked about?


  1. Ms.FFID! Can your Maman deliver to London too?? Loved this post! It reminded me of all the best bits I loved about France when I lived there. Creme de noisette! J'adore! Especially in a crêpe! Cheered me up on a miserable day in London - thank you :-)

  2. I'm sure my mum can deliver to London :-)
    I wanted chesnut spread but I must say la creme de noisette is DELICIEUSE!

  3. What a nice parcel you got here, lucky you. My family keep sending me stuff from France, their favourite are: coquillettes (small pasta) and Nougatti (chocolate coated nougat bar). They never send any saucisson which is a shame :)

  4. Thanks Raphaele, it was lovely and it should keep me going until Christmas. I used to love coquillettes as a child,ask your family to send you a saucisson next time!

  5. I always receive parcels from Italy, I cannot do in a different way :D I agree with you: it's not about the food (I can find a lot of italian stuff here in Dublin) but it's about feeling a bit at home!

  6. I know, it's not like we can't find French products here, they're everywhere... I'd love to hear about your Italian parcels! ;-)

  7. Les colis alimentaires de mamans françaises sont vraiment supers! Celui-la me met l'eau a la bouche, miam! Ca me rappelle mes colis en Australie (qui etaient limités malheureusement a cause des restrictions...) remplis de gateaux et chocolats. Pour le reste (fromage et charcuterie) il fallait faire avec ce qui était disponible. Vive le retour en Irlande!
    Super blog au fait, well done!

  8. Merci Yolene, les produtis francais sont bien accessibles ici mais c'est vrai qu'en Australie ou aux US c'est bien plus complique! Sympa tes photos, si tu as des conseils en food photography je suis preneuse!

  9. Pas de Pieds de Mouton dans le colis ? J'adore ces champignons ! Huuum les Toompettes de la Mort... It reminds me the forest near my native towin in Anjou where we used to pick up wild mushrooms every autumn... I wonder if they know these wild mushroom in Ireland ? I know we can find some Ceps here... but I don't know where !!
    Yolaine M.
    PS : I still buy Coquillettes for my son (7) via a French website :)

    1. aie, getting this a bit late but which website do you use. everytime i need coquillettes i have to go home (seine et marne) which makes pasta rather expensive, even with RyanAir

    2. You can find coquillettes in Chez Max epicerie on Baggot street in Dublin!

  10. bonjour, je m appelle Jonathan,

    je ne trouve pas tant de produit francais que ca ici en ireland, hormis le falon and byrne qui est tres cher, auriez vous des conseils sur ou trouver les produits suivant: fromage a raclette, ricard, piment d espelette, rillettes bordeaux chesnel,canneles, cassoulet, lentilles saucisses, saucisson, andouillette, etc ,je suis preneur de tous les produits francais que vous pouvez me conseiller.

    merci d avance :)

  11. Bonjour Jonathan,

    Au contraire, je trouve qu'on a plutot de la chance au niveau des produits francais sur Dublin apres c'est sur qu'il faut depenser un peu d'argent pour se faire plaisir. Si Fallon est trop cher, je vous conseille Chez Max Epicerie ou l'epicerie de Paris Bakery sur Moore Street. Pour la raclette, Paris bakery est l'endroit le moins cher. Le ricard, je ne suis pas sure je pense qu'a Chez Max ils en ont. Des rillettes, je n'ai jamais vu Bordeaux Chesnel mais j'en ai achete a Fallon and Byrne pareil pour les saucissons et il y a aussi Sheridan Cheesemongers. Il faut essayer Paris Bakery pour tout ce qui concerne les boites de cassoulet, saucisses. Sur ma page facebook je mets souvent des photos de produits que je vois/achete dans les magasins. Et si vous ne trouvez pas votre bonheur, il y a ce site qui livre meme en Irlande.

    Bonne recherche de produits francais!

    1. Bonjour,

      Merci beaucoup de vos informations tres precieuses.

      Bonne journee.