This morning, I queued for twenty minutes for two slices of ham. Then I queued for another fifteen minutes at another deli for three slices of smoked ham, because it was supposedly better at that pork butcher. Then we went to a third deli for some pâté en croûte and other cold cuts.
French do take food seriously. It took us over an hour to assemble all the ingredients needed to feed six people at dinner.
On Sunday, the best option for grocery shopping is the big(ish) market at Talensac. These days, most people “cheat” and stop by one of the small supermarkets that open until 1 p.m. (a novelty in France, where all businesses close on Sundays), but they still go to the market afterwards for fresh fruits and veggies, meat, fish, cheese and dessert. It’s a bit of a rush because you have to make it to the supermarket and to the market before they close. Lineups are long and the most popular stalls sell out very fast. Good luck buying a roasted chicken or the best fish cuts if you show up after 10 p.m.!
When it comes to grocery shopping, I’m both French and Canadian. My French side truly appreciates speciality food, artisanal products and independent butchers, bakers, cheese sellers, etc. It’s fun to eat non-standard food, slightly misshapen slices of bread, tasty pies made with love and zero preservatives. I don’t want my food to have that comfortable, predictable blandness engineered to please as many customers as possible. That said, I also appreciate the efficient, streamlined process developed by franchises and chains where employees can take your order and payment in less than five minutes. I can’t spend the entire day sourcing food all over the city and markets are getting more and more expensive year after year. A single yogurt from the dairyman costs more than a pack of four at the supermarket. Yes, I know, homemade vs. industrial… but unfortunately, I can’t afford that luxury every day, and some (most?) supermarket products are just fine.
I’ll still enjoy the market on weekends. The rest of the time, I’ll buy the bulk of my groceries in supermarkets, and a few specialty products in independant shops.