{17/09/2012}   French supermarkets

A friend and I went to France for the day on Saturday.  As usual, I had a fairly big supermarket shop and as usual it was so much fun!  We were both very excited about the prospect of a shop, though we lost a precious 15 minutes of our one-hour pre-Eurotunnel supermarket sweep (for that is a little how it is with me!) due to trolley issues and my leaving my wallet in the car, fortunately discovered before being poised to pay.  There is something ludicrously exciting about shopping in French supermarkets.

This really is going to be an ode to Auchan as that was our supermarket of choice.  My friend and I think there are a lot more choices in large French supermarkets than large British ones, which we couldn’t explain when the floor space is probably the same.  We then worked out that the areas we were most interested in in Auchan were wine, soft drinks, cheese, cured meats, salady stuff and all things boulangerie and patisserie.  I think it is safe to say that all these sections are French staples and, for reasons unknown, are not British staples to the same extent – though in fairness British bakery sections take up a fairly large area.

There is something unexpectedly thrilling about seeing different brands and slightly different choices.  For example, there was a huge array of tomatoes.  I don’t often buy tomatoes and I certainly don’t get excited about them (though multi-coloured tomatoes have always fascinated me to the extent I buy them occasionally- I have recently discovered Lidl and they have a supremely exciting multi-coloured tomato pack!).  However, in Auchan I bought one of those beef steak (no, surely not “beef”?  Anyway, something like that) tomatoes.  It’s huge and has segment shapes like a very mis-shapen orange without its peel.  Guess how heavy it was?  650g.  For one tomato.  How cool is that?!  What I am going to do with it, I don’t know, though my friend had stuffing suggestions which sounded good.

However, when am I going to have time to stuff and eat a tomato when I have a fridge full of cheese, pate, cured meats and tubs of salady things.  Oh, just writing about it makes me feel desperate for it to be lunch or dinner time!  Though I do have croissants and pain au chocolate to satisfy my breakfast needs!  I know you can get coleslaw and potato salad, etc, in British supermarkets and I know M&S have a fantastic and inspiring selection of salady things, in fact more selection than in Auchan, but the French ones just seem far more exciting and delicious.  Plus, I do have a soft spot for mayonnaisey things and the French mayonnaise dishes seem lighter and nicer.

As for wines, most bottles mean absolutely nothing to me.  I know very little about wines, knowing a few that are easy to get hold of in the UK that I like, but about French wines I know even less; in fact I very, very rarely buy French wines in the UK.  In France, I go by the label and the price and am occasionally drawn to ones proudly displaying an award of some sort.  It’s always been hit or miss but now I have cottoned on to peeling off labels from bottles I like and sticking them on “wine I like” paper, my wine selection time is slowly reducing.  Mind you, as we had a mere 45 shopping minutes, my wine selection was very much grab, grab, grab!

It used to also be significantly cheaper to do supermarket shops in France, an extra bonus.  Now, I suspect only a few things are cheaper, but it still makes a supermarket shop a thing of excitement and a chance to shop with an “oh, f*** it, I’lll ‘ave that” mentality.  Plus it’s all in euros so that’s, ahem, Monopoly money so doesn’t count … right?!


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