What do you buy if you don’t want to spend your last day searching for gifts? What if you have already almost spent your last euro? What if you have foodie friends that would love something special?
Easy! Here are some items that are available in most neighborhood grocery store,
Sel Guerande – This is sea salt hand harvested from a region in the north of France. On the packaging you will see the PGI designation (Protected Geographical Indication). Only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed to be identified as such. You can buy “sel fin” for cooking. But a fancier salt is “fleur de sel” for use as finish for sweets, savory foods or on the side to eat with those yummy french radishes. There is a also a less common sea salt from the south, the Camargue region.
Moutard de Bourgogne – Guess what? Dijon mustards are mostly made from mustard seeds from Canada. In other words, Dijon has no specific locational origin any longer. However, Moutard de Bourgogne must be produced in Burgundy. The mustard seed must be grown and processed in Burgundy with wine from Burgundy. Thus this mustard has a PGI designation. Edmund Fallon is a well-regarded brand but any brand should be fine.
Dijon mustard – If you do want to take a Dijon mustard home, try Amora which is a basic table mustard but well regarded for its strong flavor or Maille which is now a common brand in some parts of the US. Maille also makes all sorts of condiments including really great cornichons (those tiny tart pickles). If you are in downtown Paris you can visit the Maille store.
Lentils de Puy – These are french green lentils which are grown in volcanic soil in the Puy region of France. Regular French green lentils are grown using the same variety of lentil as the famous Puy lentils, but they are grown in North America or Italy rather than the Puy region in central France. Therefore, they are cannot be referred to as lentiles du Puy and not have the AOC designation (appellation d’origine contrôlée). This may be a bit tough to find but hold out for the lentiles du Puy (stores often run out and have only the regular green lentils).
Bonne Maman Jam – Okay, so you can find this in the US relatively easily (as least in our neighborhood). However, you won’t find all the amazing flavors that you can get in France. Some of the special yummy flavors are Bergeron apricot, and wild strawberry (Fraise des bois) and some more exotic flavors are fig, quince and rhubarb. Here is a review of the different flavors from the magazine Bon Appetit. (I don’t really agree…but..)
So head out to your neighborhood Monoprix, Franprix, Carrefour, or G20. If you want fancier versions of these foods, then head to Galeries Lafayette (the food building), or Fauchon, a luxury grocery store. To make a fancy package, buy a french tea towel and wrap them up. Happy gifting!