Les Produits Français/Européen/Non-Wisconsin
Once upon a time, I wrote about the American products I really missed upon arriving in France. Now, looking back at that list, I thank all the wonderful people who have sent or brought nearly every one to me. I talked to my Dad yesterday, and he mentioned that I should prepare a list for them to bring when he and his wife Pam come to visit during Easter. Of course, I immediately mentioned contact solution (what costs 2$ in the US costs 14 euros here), but other than that, I actually struggled a bit. The neat thing is, I have now found many French or European products that I love love love--and I thought I'd share them with you. If you are a frenchie as well, and have something to share with me, please, comment away!
So, here they are, in no particular order:
Yogurt (There are so many choices, you could try a new one every week for a lifetime, but I do love "brassé nature" or blended unsweetened unflavored--that slightly sour milky flavor is just divine.)
Those Nestlé mousses. Mmmm... tried vanilla with chocolate sauce last night. Very good--even had the little vanilla bean seed thingies in it (a sign of extra special goodness in my eyes). Fabulous flavors include salty caramel, coffee, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Also love their Pots de Crème au Chocolat.
Brioche. It's like a sweet roll dough, without the added cinnamon (which I am allergic to) or frosting. Sweet, rich, tender...I have to restrain myself, otherwise I'd eat the whole loaf in one sitting. Love it with butter and strawberry jam.
Yves Rocher Makeup Remover and Toner. So gentle, effective, and leaves skin so soft.
Yves Rocher Kohl eyeliner. Silky smooth application, great color, lasts.
Yves Rocher shampoos and conditioners. Both Dr. B and I like them.
Yves Rocher Green Tea shower gel (smells so fresh!), their bubble baths, nail polish, lip gloss, eau de toillette, etc.(In case you're wondering, Yves Rocher recently had a 50% off everything in the store sale. I was thrilled, and stocked up.)
Reflets de France brand food products. These I can find at our local Champion, and they package traditional french products, using the best ingredients, the best producers, etc. And they are very reasonably priced. I haven't yet found one that wasn't at least good, if not excellent. Ratatouille in a can for 75 cents. Who knew?
Saveur de l'Année products. This is kind of a "Stamp of Goodness"--went through some sort of tasting panel. All have been good. I watch for these as well.
Cheese. I never get tired of trying new ones, and we have come up with a classification system for them: Cheese, Foot cheese, and Butt cheese. Dr. B likes Cheese, and can eat some Foot. I love all three. Some of my favorites are Brillat-Savarin, Mimolette (medium old or old, not the young), Cantal, Camembert and Bleu d'Auvergne or Roquefort. Dr. B is a little scared by the blue moldy spots, but we smoosh them into the cheese when spreading it, and then he likes it. I don't mind the moldy bits.
Nivea Men products (I know, they're German). Dr. B loves their Sensitive Baume After Shave.
Vania Kotydia Flexi-form feminine products. Not going to discuss this one, but they are great. Work with all types of undergarments.
European Shower Gels. They have such good ones--I think they sell Fa in the US, and I am currently enjoying the Fa Coconut Yogurt Softening Fresh Shower Gel.
Soupline Fabric Softener--I prefer "Lavande Des Collines"--Lavendar of the Hills. Since our clothesline is above where we sleep, I consider it aromatherapy! Heh.
Salted Butter from the street market. Got some last week, because I was out and it was Sunday so the grocery store was closed. It is WAY better. Hard to describe it, but the buttery taste is just more intense, the salt a little crunchy--it's just so good and I don't know how they do it but I'm going to get some more. After tasting this, there's no margarine for me, ever again. Wow.
Mir Pamplemousse et Fleurs d'Oranger Dishwashing Liquid. Grapefruit and Orange Tree Flower scent. Makes doing dishes not suck so much.
Savon de Marseille (Soap of Marseille) We had this in the US, but it was expensive and not available everywhere. Here it is literally everywhere and dirt cheap. Cleans well, and leaves your skin feeling good--not too dry, not too greasy.
Javel Dose Bleach Tablets Genius! Bleach in a hard tablet--I never spill or splash, and can use it for sheets, towels, etc. Someone tell Clorox!
Those little tissue packets I know we had them in the US, too, but here they come in huge packs (like 20 packets in a pack) for less than 2 euros, and they reclose really well. I always have one in my purse, and the tissues are big and thick. Excellent.
Water Evian, Vittel, Volvic--sooooo cheap in France. You can get 6 -1.5 liter bottles for 2 or 3 euros. I also love the new Volvic Zest--it has a little fruit flavor and a tiny bit of sugar, and is very refreshing, but not super sweet.
Confiture de Lait Milk Jam. I know, sounds weird. But it's not--it's milk with sweetener cooked down until it is kind of like a thick, milky caramel. So good to dip apple slices into.
Bread Well, duh, I am in Paris. I know, I know--but I am in love with the Baguettes des Prés. (Multi-Grain baguettes) I think they're becoming more popular, because I've had to go earlier and earlier to the bakery to get them before they run out. Yesterday, the people in line in front of me were ordering something, and the next lady helped me (I ordered 2) and then they wanted one, too, but I took the last ones. I said I was sorry, but didn't offer to give them one of mine. You snooze, you lose!
Pants for Dr. B. He's about my height (short on the Norwegian-American scale, completely average on the French scale) and is quite trim (he'd argue, but he's generally a size M in the US.) Pants we've found here are usually close to the right length (and most stores have free alterations) and fit the waist without being super baggy on the legs, as most American pants are. He won't wear most of his old pants anymore. When you're not tall, baggy pants look really dumpy. Their shirts also fit more closely, which looks much better on him. We've bought most of them at Celio* (the star is part of the name).
Wine Again with the duh. The nice part about French wine is that you can find decent stuff that is cheap. Like I'm talking 3 euros, not $10 like in the US. There's stuff for 1 euro and some cents, and though it's usually not good, it's not awful either. Unbelievable.
Bonne Maman Coconut Cookies These just came out, and they are wonderful. I like most of their other products as well--the French do have lots of fancier packaged cookies that are really good and not pricey. An example is LU brand, or others that are similar to Pepperidge Farm (you can't get those here) but about half the price.
Chocolate French chocolate is just so much better. After it, Hershey's tastes like someone mixed in burnt cornmeal or something. The flavors, the texture, and the quality are much higher than most American chocolate (though I still love Ghirardelli, Dove and Guittard, for baking). We recently discovered the "Noir de Noir" of Côte d'Or (made by Kraft). They are little pieces, individually wrapped, of good dark chocolate. Enough for 2 bites--satisfying, without feeling like you should eat an entire bar of it. Perfect with coffee after dinner.
Etam Lingerie Their jammies are really, really soft and comfy.
Cornichons My favorite food in the world is pickles (cucumber, to be specific). When I was a kid, my Mom made them from our garden and they were so sour and garlicky and delicious--I could eat the entire jar by myself. I would make them in Wisconsin, but it's a lot of work. Consider yourself loved if I ever gave you a jar--they were a precious commodity. These are the sourest of the sour. (My sister didn't like them because they were too sour for her). You can get the Maille brand in the US--worth a try if you like sour, crunchy pickles. (The french word for sour is aigre.) There's no dill in them, but the tiny onions that they use are also delicious. Plus, they have the little plastic basket thingie that you lift up, so you don't have to dig in the brine with a fork. I love those things! (Peter Piper brand in the US uses them as well.)
Muesli Croustillant aux Fruits Crunchy grain clusters with dried bananas, raisins, coconut, papaya--great with the unsweetened yogurt, and sticks to your ribs! Ideal breakfast with a cup of strong, black coffee.
Duck is delicious. Very rich and a bit pricey, so can't eat it often, but oh, sooo good. I haven't had the guts to try rabbit yet, but I'll get there. (They have a little cartoon rabbit on the package, and I just can't get past the idea of eating a Pink Bugs Bunny.) I like Foie Gras (which the French seem to be obsessed with) but it's not something I can't live without. I'll eat it at a party, but usually wouldn't buy it for myself. It's too rich for Dr. B.
Crème Fraîche It's a staple here, and used for both savory and sweet things. It's kind of like sour cream, but not as sour. Sort of like plain yogurt, but thicker and richer. It's just good. We love it to dress up canned fruit with it and some Sucre Roux (whole cane sugar--not refined, has a bit of an anise flavor to it--Yum!) in the winter for an easy dessert.
Picard This is a french frozen-foods store, and the food is of excellent quality. Some of our favorites are the Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd's Pie), Raspberry Tarte, little teeny ice cream cones and the Blueberry Tarte. We have a freezer smaller than a shoe box, so I have to buy what we will eat that day (except the teeny ice cream cones, they fit), but if we had a bigger one, I'd probably buy more there. I make their Lasagne Bolognaise for lunch every Wednesday for my girls and their Music teacher.
Nutella no explanation necessary. (Italian)
Knorr and Maggi brand soups and sauces. Good and really easy. (Like add water and stir easy for the sauces. Heat the soups--no need to add water.)
Terrine de Campagne Like meatloaf spread in a jar. Delicious with the cornichons.
Maille Moutarde Fins Gourmets This specific type of Maille mustard makes the best vinaigrette--great flavor and it blends so smoothly. The girls' music teacher actually asked me to show her all the ingredients of my vinaigrette because she loved it so much! And she's French!!! (I was so flattered.)
So, got anything to add? Put your centimes in the Bank! I can't wait to try something new. (Who me? Gourmet? Mais, non! Gourmand!!!)