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?