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I love visiting grocery stores in other countries. I think it really gives you a window into the culture of the country you are visiting. When travelling, I think you should do your best to try new things and embrace the culture that surrounds you. When it comes to French food culture, there are many habits that I have adopted!
However, now that I’m trying to make France my home, I have a slightly different view when going to the grocery store. There are certain items that I am used to finding and cooking with on a regular basis. I have yet to truly explore specialty stores, like co-ops and ethnic markets, but here are a few things that I have to get used to when shopping at the typical grocery store in Paris.
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter on toast with honey. Peanut butter crackers. Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter on cut up apples. Peanut butter cookies. Noodles with Thai peanut sauce. A good old spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. I know I’m not alone in this. We are down to half a jar left. Not quite crisis mode yet, but we might need to start rationing it if we hope to make it until our December flight to the States. Believe it or not, Jonathan is actually the bigger consumer of peanut butter in this household.
Peanut butter exists in France. Can you spot it?
Check out the price on that! A miniscule jar of Skippy for 4.99 euros ($5.47). Skippy isn’t even great peanut butter. I guess I’ve become a peanut butter snob, because I no longer buy it if it contains any ingredients other than peanuts and salt. In case anyone is worried about our upcoming peanut butter shortage, I really like Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter.
2. Black Beans
I am a huge fan of black beans. I often use them as a protein in vegetarian dishes, and they fit into a lot of Mexican recipes. Black beans do not exist here. I know- I’m in shock, too. Jonathan said I should just use red beans, and I suppose they’ll taste the same. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about seeing red beans sticking out of my enchiladas though….
3. Mexican Food
Growing up in the States, I’ve been spoiled all my life by readily available, good Mexican food. It’s also generally easy to prepare (if you have black beans 😂). At the very minimum, I require a regular supply of good chips and salsa. I guess I’ll be exploring how to make my own salsa soon.
4. Italian Cheeses
At any given time, I used to have three to five different cheeses in my refrigerator. The staples were: shredded cheddar, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, and then usually some kind of French cheese, like a brie or goat cheese. I know that I’m currently living in the land of great cheeses, but Italy got a few right too, and they’re essential if I want to make a good lasagna or baked ziti. Somehow, I think the shredded emmental cheese (swiss cheese) will just not cut it.
And that, my friends, is what you’re seeing in this picture. Bags upon bags of emmental cheese. Not a low-moisture mozzarella in sight. There are a few containers of grated parmesan cheese, but the selection is small.
5. Ground Turkey
Is buying ground turkey weird? Apparently, I’ve gotten really used to cooking with ground turkey, and now that I’m in France, I’m questioning my habits. It tends to be less expensive than ground beef and, being a more bland meat, takes on flavors a lot more readily. There is no ground turkey here.
6. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
What is it about Americans buying meat, boneless and skinless? At some point in time, I got brainwashed into thinking that that was the only way, too. Now I’m in the real world, and this convenience is no longer available to me.
“Des hauts et jamais de bas” – Tops of the thighs: The tops and never the bottoms… Because chickens don’t wear pants. Get it? #grocerystorehumor
Real bacon. Crispy bacon. Not that Canadian crap. That’s false advertising. That’s just ham. Real bacon can now be found in France, but I laughed out loud when I saw it.
We already tried it. It’s Jonathan-approved. But, with only a few slices at 2.99 euros ($3.28), it won’t be coming home all that often. Plus, there’s something great about a house that smells like bacon after it’s been slowly cooked. I feel like I’ve been robbed of that, when they did all the cooking for me.
Mac & Cheese Update
You might remember that I brought powdered cheddar cheese with me in preparation for France’s lack of macaroni and cheese. (Clearly an essential item on the packing list when moving across the ocean.) Powdered cheddar + milk + butter + hot noodles. We made some this week using Anthony’s Cheddar Cheese Powder and this recipe from Kitchn. It was wildly successful. Seriously, even if you have access to boxed mac and cheese, give this a try!!
Related: Things I Bring Back to France From the United States
Stay tuned for more Paris grocery store disappointments when I start baking this winter. That will be interesting!
14 thoughts on “7 Paris Grocery Store Disappointments”
1. I NEED that milka spread
2. The pioneer woman’s salsa recipe is a staple in my family and super easy to make!
1. Europe is really good at its chocolate spreads. I’m surprised the Milka spread hasn’t made it to America yet!
2. I just added the Pioneer Woman’s salsa to my Pinterest. Thanks for the tip! Now I need a food processor…
I complete understand how you feel about peanut butter. Actually I like almond butter, which is even harder to find. You can also find it at health food stores, but it’s not the same. I always buy a supply from TJ’s or have a visiting friend bring them over. Regarding black beans, sometimes I’ve found them at Aldi (though I don’t know if Aldi has shops in the city?), but it’s not consistently there – I always by a supply when I find it. And regarding ground turkey, sadly I’ve given up. I miss cooking with it!
Even if it’s available, it doesn’t feel quite right buying nut butters at such a high price when you know you can get it for cheaper! I have a feeling we’re going to run out before our Dec. flight to the States, but I am just going to tough it out! (And then bring back a good supply lol) There is an Aldi in Paris. It’s a little far, but it would be totally worth it if I could stock up on black beans. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find them there! For the most part, I think I can do without the ground turkey by just using ground beef instead. I think I’m going to miss turkey meatballs the most, because those seasonings just don’t quite work with beef.
Ellen, I love your blog! My daughter, Brittany Rogan, got me hooked on it and I look forward to each new post. I wanted to share a good (I think :)) salsa recipe I have.
1 lb plum tomatoes, chopped 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cumin
1 small red onion, diced * pinch of cayenne pepper to taste, for those that like it hot!
In medium bowl combine veggies. Stir in the rest of ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips if you can find them!
Thank you so much for following my adventure! And thank you for the salsa recipe. These are all ingredients that I can easily find 😀 I will definitely be giving this a try.
Peanut Butter…my biggest challenge in Europe! Although looking back now, if I had just liked natural peanut butter at the time I was abroad…England would have had satisfactory peanut butter.
And ground turkey and boneless skinless chicken. I don’t like beef that much so I would definitely struggle with the lack of ground turkey. Although, i begin to wonder…are there all that many turkeys in Europe? I know when we were planning for thanksgiving abroad, it was hella expensive to get a turkey. And the boneless skinless chicken…what would my lazy chicken eating self do?? Plus…higher risk for contamination. Something my OCD would need to get used to!
The good thing is that natural peanut butter exists here, and I like it… It’s just expensive!
I already subbed ground beef in a dish that called for ground turkey and it just wasn’t the same. Beef has such a stronger flavor. Turkey is really not popular in Europe – That’s exactly the problem! I’m probably going to eat chicken for Thanksgiving. Turkey is served for the traditional French Christmas meal… so they’re not ready yet in November! lol
It was so convenient buying boneless, skinless chicken thighs. So much tastier than chicken breasts. I took them for granted. Skinning them is ok, but deboning them is a major pain! I need to work on my technique. On the bright side, I’m able to save the bones in the freezer to make a chicken stock later.
You can sub ground chicken for ground turkey. I can’t eat red meat, fish, seafood, or eggs (I’m screwed without Pb and ground turkey or chicken) so if I move back to France, I will be starting a really close relationship with the local butcher. They can make “poulet haché “ for you. I know peanut butter is also a big disappointment. I can’t eat Nutella, being diabetic, I live on peanut butter. Maybe try ordering in bulk from England??
I’ve never seen ground chicken in the grocery store, so yes, you would have to go to the butcher to get something like that, as you already know! In regards to peanut butter, personally, I import my favorites from the US in my suitcase when I’m able to. A couple of friends have brought me some as well. Works for me 🙂
Do you have plans to move back to France??
i don’t get why you don’t have a costco membership. Everything you listed is there lmao
France is missing a lot of other things that isn’t at costco though.
I live in Paris and there isn’t a Costco in the city. Honestly, nothing on this list warrants me renting a car to get to one! 😅 Not to mention, since I wrote this post, more options have already appeared in the city. It’s crazy how quickly things change.
What is France missing, in your opinion? 🙂
Yeah, black beans. And pinto beans. And even common refried beans in the can. Good luck. And why the shot at Canadian bacon (“Canadian crap”)? I don’t know what that is and I’m Canadian. I have never eaten “Canadian bacon”. Must be an American marketing thing?
Oh, my! It’s crazy to look back on this post and see how things have changed in just a few years. This article certainly needs a refresh 😂
Still can’t find pinto beans although black beans are relatively easy to find in Paris now.
As far as “Canadian bacon,” goes, my understanding is that it’s a culinary misnomer. In the U.S., if you asked for Canadian bacon, you’d be given a round medallion of what looks suspiciously like a slice of ham. Truth be told, anything that is not streaky bacon from the belly, including back bacon, we’d call “Canadian bacon.” I’m not entirely sure why. But don’t worry—I don’t actually associate this disappointment with Canada at all!
Thanks for having a read and leaving a comment, James!