A year ago we made our first foray into the frozen food store, Thiriet.
I was so excited about all the wonderful foods there I expected to go back often.
I haven't been back once.
I never had enough stuff to buy.
I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of my American upbringing.
For some reason Americans (and I'm told that the British have a similar problem) think it's inappropriate to go into a shop without buying something.
When in a shop, browsing, I have heard almost every member (female) of my extended family utter "Are you going to buy something? I just feel like one of us should find a little something to buy".
I have one cousin whose entire house is so jam-packed with 'little somethings' that just the thought of cleaning it causes me to hyperventilate.
After moving several times, packing, unpacking, living in a construction site for months on end, I vowed never again to buy anything that required dusting.
I became the pariah of shoppers as far as my family were concerned. No matter how many little shops I went into with my mother, sister and whoever else was along, I refused to be the designated buyer. I looked, occasionally touched, but left each and every shop empty handed.
It's easier when I'm in the US. I just comment that I live in France and can't carry any of the wonderful whatevers back with me.
I live here.
Going into a shop and not buying anything is more difficult.
Europeans do it all the time. They look, they touch, they say thank you and leave.
They have this irritating tendency of only buying what they need.
I was in a small grocery shop once. The woman ahead of me bought 2 paper-thin slices of ham, 4 equally thin slices of salami, a sliver of paté, the tiniest wedge of cheese one could possibly cut, 3oz of beef, a potato, 2 carrots….. Each item was weighed, wrapped and placed in her basket before going on to the next. It took about 20 minutes. (It was not a self-service grocery). No one raised an eye-brow or sighed. The grocer was cheerfully helping her. The line behind her was out the door and down the street by the time she was done.
It was perfectly normal and perfectly correct.
I have a long way to go.
I looked around when we were in the frozen food store yesterday. People were buying one stuffed pheasant or one box of croissants or one lobster tail. No one pointed a finger and demanded that they buy more to justify their presence in the shop.
What did I buy?
A bag of frozen scallops.
Well, two actually (the price was good) and a few bags of frozen shrimp (also good price)…. And a bag of frozen corn (never saw it here before).
I wanted to buy enough to make sure it stayed frozen. (I told myself.)
Sigh. Maybe next time.
Now that winter is here, the official Soup Season, I often find myself with a half or third of a head of cabbage.
Buying a head of cabbage, any color, requires a commitment – and a plan.
Try this next time:
Creamed Cabbage with Hot Mustard
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes
2 cups roughly chopped Savoy or green cabbage
3 shallots, sliced
3 tbs white wine
3 tbs chicken stock
2 tbs hot Dijon-style mustard
4 tbs Greek or plain yogurt
1 tbs olive oil
Saut shallot in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage, wine, stock, cover and braise until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Combine yogurt, mustard and stir into cabbage. Cover and heat through. Do not 'cook'.