I did not bring as much as I did the last time for many diverse reasons. One of them being that I can find most French products I love around here in Dublin, the other being that I found a cookbook with recipes of cult French products so I can reproduce them here and the other reason... Well, the price of groceries has really risen in France lately (I was actually a bit shocked seeing that) and let's be honest, there are things like fruit, vegetables and meats that I do not need to bring back here as I can easily find those products in Dublin. I do miss the lovely Challans duck meat but I cannot seriously imagine myself bringing a whole duck back in my suitcase (do I need to give any obvious reasons about that?!).
Now, let's see what I brought back this time. Some of it is purely nostalgic and some of it is not edible but will help me cook delicious things.
All the candies in that little box above had melted and hardened so the shop owner gave it to me for free. Since I cannot eat the candies, I just open the box to smell the wonderful fragrance of liquorice that reminds me of my childhood sweets (believe me, I have been tempted to lick the melted sweets inside the box but that would not be very clever, I would probably just end up cutting myself on the edge...).
The jar in the photo on the right is filled with wonderfully fragrant nutmegs. Alright, I know nutmegs are easily found around here (I bought them many many times) but I really love the tiny microplane grater you can find in the above jar. I might even be obsessed with it... I have stared at many pots and jars of nutmegs I bought in the past wondering where the tiny grater was hiding until I realised it makes sense that not everybody includes one with their product. But what a business it would be for tiny graters manufacturers?! (no?)
This variety of chilli pepper is grown in the little town of Espelette in the Pyrenées-Atlantiques (a region in the very South-West of France). I have been using it a few times since we came back and the flavours it creates are very different from the usual chilli peppers I have tried before. I have added it to soups, egg dishes and even a sauce for pulled pork, one tiny pinch at a time, so delicious!
I also brought back a big packet of coarse sea salt and a little bag of fleur de sel. I already told you about that in the previous blog post. Oh and look at that little wood salt spoon! Clearly adding it to my collection of mini kitchen utensils with the tiny grater (it is ok to have mini kitchen utensils, right?).
Beside it is a bag of pralin (or praline: a powder made with ground sugar-coated almonds and hazelnuts). I envision some delicious desserts in my future, maybe an indulgent chocolate mousse with praline or a cheeky Paris-Brest.
I could probably give you a history of St Emilion here but since you are on the internet, it is probably easier for you to search it up if you want to know more.
Two of them are quite specialised: one for Japanese cuisine (Petits Plats Japonais by Laure Kié), and one containing recipes that all include raclette cheese (Raclette by Isabelle Guerre).
The bigger one, and my new favourite French cookbook, is called 'La Petite Epicerie du Fait-Maison' by Estérelle Payany. It contains 80 recipes for cult products we love in France, but all only using natural ingredients. And that is why I did not need to fill my suitcase up with many products I will now be able to make by myself! I already gave a try to the recipe for Petits Beurre and they tasted exactly like the real deal. Next, I will probably try the recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk or the tartinella (chocolate, hazelnuts... Need I say more?).
And that is all with the contents of my French Expat's Suitcase!
Do you also bring products and ingredients back when you travel, be it for a visit to your home country or just some holidays abroad?