Trying new foods is part of the fun of living abroad, but it does not necessarily mean we stop hankering for the taste of home from time to time.
Post-Brexit, some people report that buying British foods in France, particularly fresh and chilled items such as cheese, meat and sausages, has become more challenging.
Where these imported products can still be found, prices are often high. Here are some tips for local alternatives:
If it is British sausages you miss, Lidl often has some which are more like British than French ones, or you could try boudins blancs. Boudins noirs are like black pudding. Back bacon is hard to find but several British farmers in France offer fresh British-style bacon and sausages.
Cheddar can be replaced by Cantal: doux (mild), entre-deux (medium) and vieux (strong).
If you long for roast pork and crackling, buy a rouelle de porc, which has the rind on. Cut the rind off, along with a layer of fat. Score it, rub with salt and oil, and place it on top of tin foil, covering the meat during roasting to stop it drying out. Once or twice during cooking, pour fat from the crackling (which pools on top of the foil) over the meat.
If you’re missing solid fat, lardina (lard) is what you need. On the label, tartine means it is spreadable straight from the fridge, and cuisson means it is suitable for cooking.
Double cream can be replaced by crème fraîche, or this can be mixed with mascarpone or créme entière. Single can be replaced by UHT crème liquide.
Other foods are easier to find: porridge oats (flocons d’avoine) are normally on the cereal shelf and Worcestershire sauce usually lurks between the salt and the tinned olives.
Icing sugar (sucre glace) is also easy and parsnips (panais), which used to be unheard of in France, are commonplace now. Self-raising flour can be replaced by farine à gâteau, or just add levure chimique (baking powder) to plain flour.
Add a pinch of salt to cakes if you are making them with beurre doux (unsalted) rather than demi-sel (salted) butter.
Maple Joe sirop d’érable is an excellent substitute for golden syrup. Bovril and Marmite can be replaced with liquid Viandox for cooking purposes (eg. gravy browning, and flavouring casseroles, soups and sauces).
- Thicken crème anglaise with cornflour to make custard;
- Add ketchup – and possibly black pepper and a splash of Lea & Perrins – to Lidl white beans in tomato sauce, to replace baked beans;
- Ask the butcher for crépine (caul fat), freeze it and grate it to replace suet;
- Add vinegar to mustard mayonnaise to make salad cream, or try Amora sandwich sauce;
- Mimolette instead of red Leicester; Salers for cheddar;
- Crème d’Isigny or mascarpone for clotted cream;
- Make bread and butter pudding with pains au chocolat – and cut the cost with a bag of Lidl’s ‘day-olds’;
- Crème fluide whipped with mascarpone for double cream, or try crème professionnelle, chilled and whipped.