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Archive for the ‘Made in France’ Category

La Tranche Sur Mer, on the Atlantic Coast of France, is one of those typically Euro beach destinations: lots of camping grounds, men who think it’s okay to terrify the female public by strutting around in a pair of form-revealing speedos, kids dragging giant inflatable animal-shaped float-aids along the street and lots and lots of ice cream shops. I can’t actually work out how all the different ice cream shops make any money because there are so many of them, but practicalities aside, they are skilled in the art of displaying their products in ways that make you not just want ice cream but physically NEED it.

The vendors accessorise their ice cream to show what taste you’ll be licking off the cone. In the top picture, the nutella ice cream was indicated by a whole jar of nutella stuck into the top of its vat. In the picture above, strawberries show that the red ice cream is strawberry flavoured. That’s what I call ingenious ice cream merchandising.  Then below we have limes showing lime ice cream and flowers to indicate… what exactly? It can’t be flower ice cream.  Perhaps it’s almond. Those flower petals look suspiciously like dragées and some couples give sugared almond flowers to the guests on their wedding day.

The shot below isn’t great but I have yet to work out what Arlequin ice cream is. Hundreds and thousands sprinkled over the top… all different colours… could be tutti frutti, I guess. I’ve googled and still can’t work it out. If you read this and know what Arlequin ice cream tastes like, please let me know!

Monsieur and I didn’t even glance at the dessert card at the restaurant where we’d dined that evening. We paid the bill, walked out onto the still-busy street, found an ice cream stand where the ‘accessorising’ was particularly good, and ordered. I had a two scoop cup with coconut and guimauve.

“How do you translate guimauve into English?” I asked Monsieur.

“I don’t really know.” Came his reply.

Qu’est-ce que c’est, la guimauve?” I asked the ice cream man.

La guimauve, c’est, euh, la guimauve!”

He gave a gallic shrug, throwing his hands up into the air. Monsieur and the ice cream man were of no help to me at all. Looking at the display, the guimauve ice cream was studded with multi-coloured marshmallow twists on sticks. I hoped that when I ordered guimauve flavour, the taste would indeed be marshmallow, and it was. That’s another reason why this sort of merchandising is so clever: it helps foreigners like me to understand what they’re eating…

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This is a photo of a horse-butcher’s shop in Fontenay-le-Comte. I simply had to take a photo. Monsieur didn’t get it, but he didn’t grow up in a country where eating horse would be like eating the family dog. Kiwis just wouldn’t ever consider it. Because of that, for me, seeing horse butchers is half novelty and half horror. Thank heavens I can’t eat red meat. Now I’ll never have to consider eating Black Beauty’s cousins.

At our Christmas party last year, an Italian colleague explained to us what horse meat tastes like. She thoroughly enjoys eating horse and waxed lyrical about her favourite horse preparation methods. Meanwhile, a strictly ethical vegetarian colleague gagged and had to excuse herself.

If you think eating horse is bad, I suggest you pop across to Epicurienne, where I’m currently discussing the more bizarre items to be found on a Vietnamese menu. Monsieur and I are in Vietnam right now, studiously avoiding the consumption of anything involving monkey, dog or snake meat. Wish us luck! The Vietnamese motto is “if you can catch it,  you can eat it!” Does that include me?

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Monsieur introduced me to the music and whacky videos of Mylene Farmer. Here’s one of my favourites, although if you get freaked out by ventriloquists’ puppets because of the Chucky films, this one may not be for you…

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This is my favourite face cream and it’s French (mais bien sûr…). Manufactured by an olive oil specialty company called Oliviers & Co,  or O & Co for short, it’s nourishing, smells fresh without being fragranced and contains olive oil to feed your skin and keep it baby soft. It’s organic, accredited by ECOCERT and the only animals used for testing are humans. Anti-aging, regenerating, and anti-radical protecting are some of its claims. With all of this written on the tube I’d expect it to cost a lot more than US$32.00/ €16.50/ £10.00 which is just another reason why it’s my favourite face cream.

There are related products including a soothing lip balm, face oil, hand cream and body lotion. Definitely worth every penny.

O & Co shops are slowly going global. There are 43 in France at last count, and their popularity is growing in London, but they also boast boutiques in places as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Brazil. It’s not just cosmetics that they’re famous for; aromatic oils, divine tapenades and chocolate ‘olives’ with brazil nuts at their centre are just some of their popular products. If it can be made with olives then you’ll probably find it at O & Co.

Here’s the French site link

Here’s the UK site link

Here’s the USA site link

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