Published on June 16th, 2015 | by Ann Rickard0
France – Day 3
Going into an ordinary French supermarket is like going into food paradise.
The fresh produce is a blaze of colour and seduction, apricots and cherries are in summer season, the figs are ripe, the melons are juicy and their sweet vibrancy is everywhere.
Every supermarket aisle is filled with products that bear mystery and excitement to you because you can’t read the labels but you know something good is inside that can or box or package.
But it is in the cheese section where you can go weak at the knees with desire (only a true foodie will know what I mean by that. Most of you would go weak at the knees with desire of another kind.)
Dribbling is highly likely in the cheese section as you ponder the hundreds of varieties from soft pungent Roquefort through to high-flavoured hard cheeses and every kind of rich variety in between. The cheeses come in rounds as big as a truck tyres, they come in small timber boxes, or wrapped in bright chequered cloth.
The most interesting of all are the goat’s cheeses. From mini rounds of soft gooey gorgeousness to …cylinders of white loveliness you want to take them home to melt in the oven, perhaps with a scattering of pine nuts or herbs du Provencal, and then put them on a little pile of dressed rocket and just eat them like that.
As for the Roquefort…well…what can I say? I have paid up to $130 a kilo for a small sliver of Roquefort at home, but here I can buy an enormous round of it for just a few euros.
Then there is the charcuterie section – brimming terrines and pates, with cured and smoked meats and great mounds of hams and salami and mortadella. We love the saussicon, long dried cured meats to slice chunks off to pop into the mouth. The hundreds of varieties include a donkey meat (have avoided that one) and one studded with pistachios… a favourite.
As for the wine section…we could happily spend a day just in those aisles alone, looking at the myriad varieties of pink pinot gris, and big bottles of Bordeaux, the hundreds of offerings of locally made wines. As for Champagne, don’t get me started. Veuve Cliquot and Lanson for about 25 euros.
Having painted this picture of supermarket excitement for you I have to say but… (there is always a but)….oh the misery at the check-out.
Efficient is not a word to use here. The assistants sit down to do their work and move like snails out on a lazy afternoon picnic. They talk to each other while they laboriously move each item through the register, they do not pack, you must do that yourself and if you forget to take your bags (le sac) which we always do, then you must carry all your items out by hand.
And many French people still use cheque books to pay. (Really, I know you don’t believe me).
Then there are many mysterious (to us) processes of giving out stamps or little books of things there is much grinding of teeth and hissing of tongue. There is always the bad with the good, no?