As a reader of Comme une Française, you are looking for real French advice about France. And it’s my duty to give the accurate, real, sometimes painful truth about my country. Not clichés to sell you food, stripped shirts or wine tastings.
As I was on Facebook this morning, my heart stopped. A French industrial cheese brand was presented as the perfect « plateau de fromage ». It carried all the clichés you can possibly imagine about French cheese abroad. And the biggest one being: I would never serve such a cheese to my friends. Its Emmental is good enough for late night pasta, snacks and sandwiches but no more.
They used their « French name » to sell products that are supermarket-quality as upper-class French delicacy. It kills me. And all this is so far from Comme une Française spirit that I thought I’d warn you about other « French food clichés ». To avoid you paying 5 times the price just because it has a French flag on it.
French cheese is not only Brie
If you are looking for some good cheese for a « plateau de fromage », go to the fromagerie. The fromager will help you choose the right cheese according to your friends’ taste and experience. And you can avoid the Brie! (Please avoid the Brie, I’m tired of seeing it everywhere abroad).
If you don’t have a fromagerie next to your place… Move! Just kidding. You can often find a fromager at the market (yum) or a decent « rayon fromagerie » at the supermarket. Not talking about the industrial « Caprice des Dieux », the « Babybel » and the « Vache qui rit », but about the real cheeses « à la coupe ». « A la coupe » means they will cut a slice for you. The cheese is also found in plastic « box ».
If you leave near a coopérative (awesome), you can buy a BIG bunch of quality cheese (a few kilos or more!) straight from the producer and share it with your friends (we do and our kilo is usually eaten in a week).
Croissants come from the boulangerie
There is such a myth about the croissants, restaurants sell you disgusting ones all around the world (even in France). So. Croissants 101.
Croissants come from the boulangerie. They must not look like a ball of pastry with a shape: as the croissant is basically a triangle of pastry rolled. You have to be able to see it has been rolled.
Many brands (Pasquier and its friends) make industrial croissants: these are good enough for a family breakfast and a children’s goûter. But they full of un-natural ingredients and not worth a real one.
The croissant is crispy outside, smooth inside and tasty. It doesn’t last more than a day. One last thing, as I told you here, French rarely eat croissants in the morning: we are too lazy to go to the boulangerie before breakfast.
French fries are Belgian
We say that « les frites » were invented by the Belgians.
By the way, in France, custard is called « crème anglaise ». But it is not exactly custard.
French Bread is rarely French
Like the croissants, bread comes from the boulangerie. Nowhere else. The baguette is sold full or in halves, never in slices.
And the breads are put in plastic bags when you buy it. Not before, so you can choose the one you want, and the bread breathes.
If it looks like it’s been cooked from frozen pastry, it is not French bread. If there is no crust, it is not French bread. Usually, if it called « French bread/baguette », it is not French bread!
Again, don’t let the « French » name fool you.
French [insert the name of the dish here]
Some French brands are really bought by the French and mean quality. The best example being “Bonne Maman” of course. If you get a can of “Petit salé aux lentilles” by William Saurin, buy it. I would.
For all the pre-cooked (frozen, cans…) French food like “Boeuf Bourguignon”, “Gratin Dauphinois”, “Vinaigrette” or “Ratatouille”, feel free to try but don’t assume it will taste like this in France. And more importantly: don’t buy it! COOK IT! The Bible for French recipes is Marmiton. All these 4 are super easy. Even if you don’t have the exact perfect ingredients, it will definitely be super yummy. Way better than a can.
Oh. And as soon as my friend Julie starts her video-blog about real-life French cooking, I’ll leave you in her experienced hands. (Hurry girl!)
So remember: don’t let a French flag fool you. Feel free to ask your French friends: « would you buy this? ».
Have you ever bought food that “looked French” with a big flag on it which ended up tasting far from what you had in France? Tell me in the comments below. So we can warn each other.
Have a great week,