When i go home, i tend to forget all the bad things i usually complain about and enjoy everyday life with my family and friends. Specially during summer when i don't need anything except the sun and the sea for a month. But addmittedly even after a few days i usually notice a lack of a thing or two which would really come at handy. Or belly. In the end i consider it inevitable. A man is a creature of habit and given that, man always becomes accustomed to what is better.
So what are these things i come to miss when i come home from France?
First of all, the bread. A long, crisp, flavourful baguette, preferably aux graines or aux cereales. I can't get this kind of bread anywhere at home. I'm seriously considering opening my own boulangerie in Croatia.
Viennoiseries (pain au chocolat, chausson au pommes, croissant...) and all sorts of pastries in a local bakery. Lets
admit it, croatian bakeries are rather boring, especially the small locals
ones. Eventhough large chains like Pan-Pek or Mlinar do have a big
selection, the products have more or less industrial taste. There are
exceptions among them however.
A large selection of chocolates in the supermarkets (have you noticed the trend here?). I'm not really into going to the biggest Konzum shop or Muller every time I want to eat a good chocolate. I'm talking local stores, and let's face it, Dorina just won't do.
(I could also add a huge selection of tea in the cafés or tea rooms, but i'm not that much of a tea drinker so i'll leave it be.)
Coffee in a café. I know most of you will disagree but i do hate the famous croatian coffee with milk everyone is sipping all day long. During my uni days i was ordering it mainly because it was the cheepest thing to order. I quickly turned to Nescafé but when i really needed a dose of good caffeine i'd take a white coffee. Here, there is cafe crème, which is to my taste somewhere between coffee with milk and white coffee and is completely drinkable. No need to mention a sudden burst of great coffee places in Paris where you can enjoy all sorts of coffee prepared by well-trained baristas.
Paris is full of bistros, brasseries and caves à vin where you can have a meal or a snack if you wish. A plate of cheeses and charcuterie when you sit in a bistro is what i miss the most. What more could you want when you're not in a mood for a restaurant and yet you could use a bite? Or when you just have a desire for something to accompany your glass of wine. Even if you normally don't have that desire, you will most certainly get it in Paris.
On the other hand, when abroad, there is always something from your home country missing and that is completely normal. Even for me. So here are some things i noticed France is missing (except our sea, of course:).
Something salty in the bakeries in the morning that is not a sandwich. I'm starting to get used to eating croissants, pain au chocolat, chausson aux pommes, pain au raisin and all other kinds of glucose boosts at 8 am, but i have my days when i want to enter a bakery and scream: lisnato sa sirom !!! (pate feuilletée with cheese, salty).
First thing that will caught your eye in a french supermarket is not the selection of cheese, you'll be expecting that and therefore won't be surprised. What might startle you are two (usually) big aisles packed with yoghurts. One with plain yoghurts, fromage blanc and yoghurts with flavours (sugar, coco, vanilla) and the other with fruit yoghurts. And yoghurty chocolate desserts. And special yoghurts for kids. (Oh since i'm mentioning, there is a special aisle with compots - not the pieces of fruit in cans, rather small tubes or pots of creamy compot that reminds on baby food. But there's a special aisle for baby food, too.)
Now what is wrong with that?
First, there are not so many plain liquid yoghurts and there are almost no liquid fruit yoghurts. Actually there are some: a superb food brand called Michel et Augustin which sell among other things all liquid yoghurts (i love the one with blueberries). The problem is that not all of their products can be found in every store.
Fresh cheese. Some of you may think, ok, she lives in a land of
cheese and yet she's complaining about the lack of it!? Fresh cheese is a
commonly used ingredient in Croatia. Eaten fresh or with cream, used as
a filling for different cakes or strudels, you name it.
In France, i noticed two kinds of fresh cheese products. Fromage blanc,
a soft cremy cheese usually eaten with fresh fruit as a desert. It's a
bit sour by itself, but wonderful with strawberry sauce poured over it.
Or vice versa, it can be served as a topping for desserts, such as warm
Then there is fromage frais, which i've hoped i will be able to use with pate feuiletée to make a strudel only to discover it is basically what we in Croatia call "sir i vrhnje".
In other words, cream is added to the cheese to make it softer and more
flavourful. Not to mention useless for my strudel. Until i've found
what i was looking for. An english product, Cottage cheese
from Longley farm, a beautiful, flavourful, salty, light cheese which
is the best fresh cheese i've had in my life. I cannot really stand
fresh cheese unless in a pastry but this baby i eat solo, with a spoon.
Bread crumbs. I even asked some French people about them since i couldn't find them easily. They haven't even heard that they exist on the market. It's not that they don't exist, but they're not very popular. Why would they be when you can buy already breaded filets. Well for one thing i would like to prepare fritters every now and then and i don't mind breading the chicken filets by myself. I bought a package some time ago but they don't seem to look like the bread crumbs i'm used to. I still haven't used them but hopefully they'll do the job fine.
One of the things which is most often found on the plates of croatian tables is pickled cabbage (sauerkraut).
I miss it very much during winter times since it's not easy to get it
here. It can be found in some deli stores and i will definitely do more
effort to find it this year.
In Croatia you can find ice cream in the box but also a diversity of cones or ice creme on the stick. I absolutely love the famous croatian brand, Ledo (see the video here) which offer all sorts of flavours and packages. I miss it a lot in Paris.
There is a big choice of shamelessly good italian gelatos here (Pozzetto, Grom...) and delicious Haagen Dazs boxes, big and small which you can find anywhere. But cornet's are rare in the stores, not to mention ice cream on the stick. During summer you can buy them at ice cream vendors in the parks. Magnum and Cornetto are the most popular that i've seen. I had them once and that was enough. They are overly creamy and almost impossible to finish and a Cornetto has a horrible taste. Better go with the italians.
In the end, the list is not that extensive and it goes equally both ways.
Do you have certain food you can't go without when somewhere abroad?