The winter is well and truly upon us here in the Alps, finally! It’s hovering around -5 celsius during the day, and at long last there’s tons of snow! As much as this means great skiing, for the foodies amongst us it also means an excellent excuse to get stuck in to some proper winter food, by renaming it ‘Winter Warmers’…! Living in the French Alps the obvious choices are tartiflette, fondue and raclette; basically if you don’t like cheese, there’s not much for you!
So recently I’ve indulged in all these cheesy delights, and I’m loving it! The recent raclette was the clear highlight, featuring 3 types of meat, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes and of course the staple raclette cheese! There’s something so special about a meal where you have to cook your own food at the table; in sole charge of what you eat and how it’s cooked. It’s so sociable, so satisfying and so delicious!
Such a simple concept, yet such a winner with friends. Every household should have a raclette set!
No matter how many years you spend living abroad, whether it’s simply just over the border or a 24 hour plane ride away, we all miss certain things about the place where we grew up, aside from the obvious family and friends. Of course you get used to where you live, the ways of life, the local customs and foods, and learn to really enjoy things you had perhaps never experienced before.
Spending so many years in France, some of these things for me have been delicious tartiflette, an abundance of local mountain cheeses, fresh baguettes, wonderful bakeries and a rare rump steak to name but a few! Before coming to France I’m not sure I’d ever eaten a steak before, and the thought of eating meat that looked a little pink would have horrified me, but now I’ll literally close my eyes to savour every bite of that bloody steak that’s almost still mooing!
You would think after spending your entire twenties away from the country you grew up in, you would just become accustomed to what’s available where you live and slowly forget what you used to do. But for me this has never been the case. Maybe it’s a British thing, but despite actively choosing not to live there, we Brits seem to cling on to all things British with a fierce patriotism, excitedly cramming suitcases and cars full of things we can ‘only buy over there’!
I don’t think it’s a case of the UK having ‘better stuff’ than France, I think it is simply that you never lose your roots. I know the high street shops of Britain like the back of my hand, whatever I need I know where to go to get it. It’s simply easier to wait until you next visit England to buy yourself some new jeans or a pair of winter boots, because rather than spending hours trawling a bunch of shops you’re not familiar with, you could have what you want in 10 minutes from your local childhood high street because you grew up with it and you know it.
I have the wonderful luxury of living somewhere I love, yet being only a short plane ride away from where I grew up so in just a few hours I can be across 2 borders and safely landed in the UK. I frequently take advantage of this wonderfully convenient service and I spent last weekend catching up with some fabulous university friends. Now during a fleeting visit across the water it would be frankly wasteful to not cram a few British treats in to my hand luggage whilst there, which I duly did, and which got me thinking about the strange things I miss from my homeland.
This time the lucky items that made it back were: crumpets, Dairy Milk caramel, Double Decker chocolate bars, multipacks of fudge bars, a block of cheddar cheese and the Saturday Times newspaper. On a journey which allows for more luggage space the following items will also regularly be found: Marmite, British bacon, digestive biscuits and the essential jars of peanut butter.
Ever since childhood I’ve always been a huge fan of peanut butter (something which the french sadly just don’t seem interested in…) Why I miss the other random assortment is anyone’s guess, although the fact that you simply can’t buy most of these things over here surely must play a part…! As they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder! One thing’s for sure, if I ever move further away I’m going to have to send a mighty big container on ahead of me, and it’ll be filled with peanut butter!