I love France!
I’ve loved the French language since the first day we started learning it at school, rising from our seats when our French teacher entered the class room and settling back down on her crisp “asseyez-vous”. Born with a handy ability to mimic accents and blessed with a French teacher who was actually French, I found that speaking French came easily to me and I adored it. Indeed, I went on to study it at sixth form and university. My French is rustier these days, though still good enough for a rambling conversation with a rambunctious Frenchman and certainly sufficient to handle most situations that come up on holiday.
I quickly came to love both the food and the country too, following my first two visits as a child – a school trip to Boulogne and a family weekend in Paris (during which my dad couldn’t quite wrap his head around my lack of fluency after just a few months learning!)
At sixth form, I was so excited to take part in a language exchange programme but it nearly didn’t happen; my assigned partner dropped out less than a week ahead of the trip but to my enormous good fortune, another girl who’d originally not applied had just asked if she could participate; we were asked if we’d like to pair up, solemnly warned that we may have nothing in common as we’d not been matched on our interests. Serendipity stepped in and we bonded strongly, perhaps the best of all the pairs on the trip. Even today, over 25 years later, I still consider her entire family ma famille en France and feel sad that we’ve not caught up in person for a few years now. We have visited many times in the intervening years; she came to my wedding, I was proud to attend hers and I love receiving the news of her little ones every year.
Between sixth form and university my best friend and I both worked as jeunes filles au pairs in France. My family lived in a tiny rural village West of Paris and hers were out in the farthest Northern suburbs of Paris. We met in the city every weekend, where we delighted in trawling the sprawling Puces de Saint-Ouen (flea markets), finding cheap-as-frites prix fixe menus offering classic French cuisine, wandering around the tourist sights of Paris and popping in to the ever-present McDo for an affordable chocolat chaud to defrost winter-frozen fingers. Often, we unexpectedly found ourselves at the end of one or another metro line, having become so engrossed in our latest conversation that we missed our intended stop.
For a few years, I went back to Paris regularly, organising weekend trips with friends, my sister and with Pete; acting as tour guide to the main sights, finding cheap eats and being the mouth piece for all interactions.
But then Pete and I discovered the joys of taking our car across on the ferry, and later, through the tunnel. The freedom to drive where we fancied, staying overnight in modest little auberges or grand châteaux, was a joy and we developed a particular fondness for the Loire region, which we’ve visited many times. Whether it’s a gentle meander around a quaint traditional village, shopping for bread, cheese, fruit and cold meats in a bustling market and then enjoying them as a picnic lunch overlooking a serene bucolic landscape, visiting and buying direct from vineyards, admiring another impressive castle or lingering over so many magnificently tasty meals in all manner of restaurants across the country.
Always, before coming home, we fill the car boot with an enormous bounty of food and drink. Wine, of course, and sweet cidre for me and then cheese, pâté, salad dressings, chocolate, biscuits and so many other little treats and snacks we liked the look of.
These days, with so many exciting places to visit, we don’t get to France quite as often as we used to, though we still try to go at least once every couple of years. So we do miss our French treats.
Step in Bonjour French Food, who got in touch recently asking if I’d like to try their brand new service in which they send a selection of French treats directly to your UK address. The cost is £31 per box, including delivery and that drops to £29 per box if you subscribe for 3 or 6 months.
The October box included
- Marlette (organic) fondant au chocolat baking mix
- Michel et Augustin petits sablés ronds et bons
- Maison Papillon terrine de magret de canard with miel des Cévennes
- Ducs de Gascogne tomato and sweet pepper spread with anchovy and garlic
- Ducs de Gascogne wild boar terrine, hazelnut and tangerine
- Tonton La Rondelle pepper-coated saucisson
Without a doubt, all the products are typically French and have clearly been chosen for their quality of taste and ingredients.
A little help from Google tells me that the selection above would retail for just over 27 Euros in France (without any postage included), which comes to a little under £23. Add on a little for packaging and postage across to the UK, not to mention the informative product information leaflet enclosed, and the £31/ £29 price point is actually quite reasonable; it’s a pretty heavy box.
On the downside, the selection of products seems a little random. There’s no theme to each box, nor can I envisage the products combining very well if served together. Instead, it’s a rather arbitrary collection. Whilst that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the various items – particularly the Marlette chocolate fondant baking mix – it does make me question the appeal of subscribing to this service in lieu of visiting an online shop which allows me to assemble my own choice from an attractive product list, according to my personal tastes. Customers could even be given a choice between basic cardboard boxes or more expensive wicker or wooden ones. Delivery fees could be based either on weight or order value.
Of course, the advantage of a pre-arranged box is when ordering either as a gift, especially if you’d struggle to choose individual products for the recipient yourself. It’s a lovely way to share a love of France with friends and family, or buy a treat for someone you know already feels the same way.
Kavey Eats received a review box from Bonjour French Food.