What we love the most about France is that it needs no introduction. By simply mentioning it, we’ve got you daydreaming about walking down the Pont des Arts, eyeing the elegance of the intimidatingly lavish Eiffel Tower, and all that while the pleasantly chirpy noise of Parisian life is humming in the background. And before a nimble mime artist decides to confuse you with quick-witted tricks, we have to stop you right there and get you back to our world - the food world. While we’re all quite familiar with all the baguettes, chocolate croissants, and ambrosial escargot, the rest of the French diet remains a delicious mystery. If you ever come to think of it, there is not much we know about the daily food habits of the French, right?! According to the data from the OECD, it’s the French who spend the most time eating. While we’re sure it’s delicious whatever they are enjoying over there, we’re still determined to get down to the nitty-gritty of classic French everyday menu. We’ll be glad to share a delicious ride to our French grocery store with you while we introduce you to all the essentials you’re bound to discover on a typical French grocery list. Who can say no to adding a little bit of French galore to their breakfast, lunch, or dinner, right?!
French Food for Any Time of the Day
One thing that might surprise you is the frequency of grocery shopping in France. With us, grocery shopping usually turns into a fun, all-encompassing journey which, if accompanied by family or friends, turns into a kind of get-together - we catch up on all the things we missed about our dearests, maybe discuss a little neighborhood drama, which, sometimes, for unknown reasons to all of us, might end with a discussion of the ancient philosophy about the meaning of life. Grocery shopping is fun and frequently tiring, that’s all we’re trying to say. So, unlike us, the French do it quickly. As a general rule, they don’t stock for a week - that would compromise the daily baguette-run and, of course, chances of getting the freshest produce in a nearby farmers market. They only shop for a couple of days. However, whenever they stock up, there are some of the must-try staples they never forget about. So, if you’re all ready, let’s dive headfirst into the ultimate French grocery list!
Although you might be slightly surprised we didn’t open with chocolate-filled croissants, the reality is far more cliched, and we are not complaining. Fruit jams are one of the superstars of Petit Déjeuner (yep, that’s breakfast in French, which translates to little lunch), and, more precisely, La Tartine (and, yes, it’s the last time we’ll try to show off with our French vocab, we promise). As you might’ve guessed, La Tartine refers to a morning toast, more accurately, a sweet sandwich and the embellishing ceremony of it. Unlike crunchy, square TOASTED toasts, the rest of us are so used to grabbing on the go whenever we hit the snooze button way too many times in the morning; our European friends usually go with fresh baguette or soft brioche bread slices, butter, and for a luscious finish, an abundance of French jams. So, calling it a toast might be a culinary oxymoron, but if it’s that delicious, why not?! Butter serves as a delicious blank canvas, and fruit jams quickly add layers of refreshing aromas and all the right flavors to charge you for the day. While usual toasts are just on-the-go snacks, the French have scrupulously transformed ordinary bread into an easy dessert by masterfully layering familiar flavors.
While we’re more than sure you will have mouth-watering fun scrolling through our digital aisle of French jams & preserves, we must admit - our vote goes to French strawberry jams. When it comes to strawberries, the country is home to unique varieties, such as Gariguette and Belle Bourbonnaise. Yet, it’s a true culinary wonder what they can do with Fraises des Bois - bright red wild forest strawberries, loved for their rich aroma. Commercially growing them is quite tricky, it’s nearly impossible to get your hands on domestically produced jams in the USA, but not in France. Lucky for us all, Bonne Maman has got us covered - their mixed strawberries jam includes the wild(ly aromatic) ones, too, and is guaranteed to make a delicious addition to your French-style fluffy toast!
Can’t Forget About French Cookies
French adore desserts, whether it’s deliciously airy croissants, eye-catching macarons from their favorite patisserie just over the street, or classic Tarte Tatin. That’s why they have so little time left for occasional snacking. However, despite everything, cookies still manage to get on the grocery list of French gourmands. We have created a quick blog about all the famous French cookies you must try if you’re determined to jazz up your cookie jar collection; however, here are some things to expect. French cookies are incredibly straightforward, but that doesn’t mean they lack enticing flavors. Just when you thought you’ve already tried them all: chocolate chip, Viennese, chocolate fudge, or even PB&J cookie sandwich, here come French cookies, making your jaw drop with their unexpected simplicity. Dated back to the middle ages, they were first created as energizing snacks with long shelf life. Lucky for us all, French cookies go perfectly with pretty much everything you dare to pair: butter, jams, preserved fruits, and savory chutneys, to name a few. And, you know how the French don’t shy away from anything daring, right!?
So, don’t let the unconventional simplicity scare you away. Classic French cookies are loved for their buttery bite and unique consistency. While the blog mentioned above will be a thorough guide for shopping like a true epicurean, our extensive aisle of French cookies can still be intimidating. So, here is one of our favorites from the category - irresistibly crumbly and thick Palets Breton by La Mere Poulard. These not-too-sweet buttery cookies hail from Brittany, a beautiful hilly peninsula of North-Western France. Palets Breton are thicker than ordinary cookies, and, we guess, that is precisely what is making them suspiciously easy to love. Oh, and the Breton moniker translates to “good things.” So, whenever you want to celebrate good times with good things, simply pair these generously thick melt-in-your-mouth buttery cookies with your favorite hot beverage. No offense to coffee, but the delicate, crumbly texture goes beautifully with classic black tea and hot chocolate!
And It’s Highness, French Cheese!
The dairy products’ aisle is where the true French gastronomical habits are laid! Even though we're pretty sure you’re either familiar or, at least, have heard of the culinary affair of France and cheese, we just can’t skip over the basics. The dairy products aisle is one of the largest sections of a typical French grocery store, and to put things into perspective, just know that according to Charles de Gaulle there was 246 different varieties of traditional cheese in France, and that was in 1962. So, if you’re thinking about traveling, you better get your hands on the cheese map, too.
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Feel free to enjoy French cheese at any part of the day - with sweet over savory breakfast, quick lunch sandwiches, or dinner-party charcuterie boards. However, traditionally, in France, it’s consumed on its own after the main course, right before dessert arrives. Classic cheese plate contains at least three different types (usually sheep, cow, and goat or fresh, a natural rind, and a washed rind cheese), arranged from mildest (or youngest) to the most pungent. We strongly believe it’s not humanly possible to classify all 400 of them into neat categories, but there are general metrics to help you find your new favorite. The type of milk is one of the first factors you should take into consideration when choosing from French cheeses. Unlike cow’s milk cheese, goat cheese, or as the French call it, chevre, has tangy undertones. However, French sheep cheese is loved for its nutty flavors, sometimes juxtaposed with piquant caramelly aroma or neutral sweetness.
If you’re eyeing French goat cheese, Pelardon from Languedoc will be a delicious start. This traditional soft cheese is made with unpasteurized goat milk for a softer and creamier consistency and delicate finish. It has ever-so-slight saltiness, so pairing Pelardon won’t be a problem.
However, if you don’t want to betray tried-and-tested cow’s cheese, you should go with Cure Nantais. First made in a small village near Nantes in 1880, the soft rind-washed cow’s cheese is only aged four weeks for a supple texture. It usually has delicate spiciness for making it perfectly delicious on its own.
And, finally, for those dying to try authentic French sheep’s cheese, semi-hard yet indulgently light P’tit Basque will be ideal. It carries delicious earthiness with caramelly notes and has an addictively dry texture - perfect for dinner-party charcuterie boards.
You Already Know What’s Next - French Mustard!
Speaking of cheese, you can’t forget about French mustard, which has been a firm favorite condiment of the country for centuries. French Kings were known for hiring personal mustard-makers, and apparently, Louis XI even carried a jar or two in his pockets (or made someone with pockets carry them). So, just like cheese, mustard is one of the beloved French temptations you just have to get to know closely. And, by lucky chance, those two go great with each other.
Let us explain why & how. French usually don’t use mustard as a complimenting sauce, but as a cooking ingredient, however, there is one place where it serves as the ultimate dip, and it’s charcuterie boards. Initially, it was just another word for cured meats platter; however, today, charcuterie boards have become some of the beloved food crazes to take the culinary world by storm. And, we’re sure you know just why - they have everything you need - an assortment of cheese & meat, snackable veggies, fruits, and, of course, dips. Now, this is where the elegance of French mustard comes in - ranging from subtly sweet to fiery; mustard can be the perfect flavor heightener depending on the type of cheese you’ve gathered on your board. In Burgundy, it’s a traditional pairing - with just a few dabs in classic Dijon mustard, local Burgundian cheese tastes more complex since the well-balanced fiery kick brings out contrasting flavors.
The quintessential Dijon honey mustard with balsamic vinegar from Modena will be a perfect choice for pairing with French cheese. The lively yellow mustard hails from the town of Dijon, where it was first created in the 14th century for King Phillip VI. Dijon mustard is usually creamy and has a delicious kick to it, which, if consumed moderately, can serve as the ideal flavor enhancer.
French Almond Syrup
The French don’t forget about their favorite aperitifs and mocktails for complimenting the studded charcuterie board. It’s true - bubbly Champagne is still leading the scene of apero; however, more and more unique drinks are emerging. Most of them usually feature almond orgeat syrup - a classic French syrup beloved by DIY mixologists. It’s thick, luscious, and addictively nutty, resembling marzipan with its signature aroma. You might even know orgeat syrup from Mai Tai, one of the most famous cocktails!
However, if you’re not big on mixing your own drinks, that’s fine, too, since orgeat is truly a versatile syrup. Its powers lay beyond mixing bars. The French have adapted classic almond syrup to make a delicious addition to the traditional tart recipes, pastry fillings, and, of course, coffee - that’s how it became a mainstay! While we adore the nutty sweetness of orgeat, you can find myriads of tempting flavors in our extensive selection of French syrups.
French Dark Chocolate
And, it’s time for one of the last temptation you’ll encounter on a typical French grocery list - it’s chocolate, of course. According to the Culture Trip, Paris is home to more than 300 artisanal chocolate shops - rightfully holding the title of the chocolate capital around the world. So, it’s only natural that chocolate is one of the high-priority treats on a typical French, well, at least Parisian grocery list. While it’s a classic ingredient in many desserts and pastry treats, such as croissants and pain au chocolat, chocolate is mainly enjoyed on its own in small quantities nearly every day. In 1615, Anne of Austria brought it to the French court, and chocolate never really left. For more than three centuries, chocolate was deemed a noble, aristocratic treat suitable for French royalty only. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the French take chocolate-making regulations very seriously to this day.
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You’ll find everything from mint chocolate truffles to Sarments du Medoc in our extensive collection of French chocolate. However, it’s a classic dark chocolate bar that gets on every grocery shopping list. With cocoa content usually ranging from 60%-85%, French chocolates remain one of the least sweetened in the world and, therefore, most sought after by chocolate purists. So, if you’re one of them or want to add a French flair to your sweet treats, a 72% dark chocolate bar from Comptoir Du Cacao will be excellent. It’s rich, intensely aromatic, and unexpectedly smooth. For the ultimate indulgence, Comptoir Du Cacao’s bar will be just a chef’s kiss for making a traditional Parisian hot chocolate - one of the classics of French afternoon drinks!
Finally, Almighty French Pastilles & Mints
While it might be the last items you’ll encounter on a typical French grocery list, it’s not by any means the least important one. We dare say otherwise - the French love their minty treats, a ubiquitous way to refresh themselves after protein-packed lunches and dinners they love so much. They are invigorating, unique, and, according to some, tried-and-tested remedy for digestion. Our digital aisle of French mints & pastilles is a real wonderland for those who’d like to get down to the nitty-gritty of this minty obsession of France. However, with myriads of tempting flavors adorned with vintage tins, it sure won’t be an easy task to crown your new favorite, so why don’t we make things a bit easier for you. When it comes to refreshing pastilles or mints, French go for classics - the one and only Vichy or iconic Anis de Flavigny. The latter is famous as one of the oldest French aniseed candies, produced according to the original recipes since 1591 in the beautiful Flavigny. However, Vichy is a relatively new treat on the scene - only 197 years old and very much young at heart! It was created as a minty aid to digestion problems in the spa town of Vichy using local mineral spring water and its goodness. As a general rule, the French indulge themselves with refreshing aromas after long lunches or even during their snack-time - what can we say, it’s truly versatile adult-snack perfect for any time of the day!
So, while you’re all armored with our suggestions, we will let you go to explore your new favorites like a true French foodie and end on a sweet note. While you’ll be voyaging through our online French food store to shop like a true Parisian (without boarding a plane, of course), we will be here researching and writing about everything you need to know about fine food!