When I was in France last fall, Julie and I made a point of bringing home several things we couldn’t easily find in the US, if we could find them at all. We brought home blocks and blocks of French butter, as well as a particular brand of confiture, and lots of jars of horseradishy mustard, the quality of which is much better than what we’re used to here. But I never thought about what foods French people would like to receive from America — that is, what ordinary things we have here would be a special treat for the French. David Lebovitz, the American pastry chef who lives in and blogs from Paris, has some recommendations – and they’re fascinating, at least to me, for what they say about the different food cultures. Excerpts:
Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil
A friend of mine who is a cook, every time I go back to the states, pleads with me, “Please, Daveed. Bring me back that heavy-duty foil. As much as you can carry!” French foil is really thin – you could read Le Monde through it – and rips easily, causing a lot of frustration to cooks. It drives me nuts as well because you can’t reuse it. So make your favorite French cook happy and stock them with the good stuff.
OK, why would the aluminum foil be so crappy in France? These people cook constantly, and cook well. Isn’t it in some manufacturer’s interest to make a superior aluminum foil? More:
A growing number of desserts in Paris have chocolate chips tumbling out of them, not to mention the classic, les cookies. Yet if you want some to bake them at home, a tiny bag of pépites chocolat containing what looks to be a dozen or so chocolate chips inside, will set you back more euros than one could imagine. Since “Le cookies” have caught on in France, a bag or two or semisweet morsels makes a nice gift and will save someone some major euros.
Chocolate chips, common as dirt here, are prized there. And so, according to Lebovitz, are pecans, maple syrup, and dried fruits. Read his whole list. This blog has some overseas readers; tell us, gang, which common American foodstuffs would you like to receive from a US visitor? I don’t think you can get them into the country, but if a UK visitor brought me clotted cream, I would give them anything they wanted.