Homesickness can strike you at any time. More often than not, it’s the little things that matter. The ones you never really noticed or appreciated at the time. For me, it happened this morning, after my daily commute. Don’t ask me why, but I started craving a good old saucisson. It’s hard to explain. It’s a French thing, I suppose. We grew up on saucisson. We French have it at each and every picnic, and sometimes also before a meal, as an appetiser . Having a saucisson with fresh bread and some red wine isn’t only a French cliche, it’s part of what being French is really about. It’s funny how, when you live abroad, the small things that you used to take for granted start feeling so special…So what is saucisson exactly? And what do I miss most from my home country?
Well, saucisson has been made in France since Roman times, with archaeological finds proving so. Simply put, the cured sausage is a “living historical monument” and a symbol for France since the time of the Great War. Of course there are similar things like salami and the likes. But what can I say? Saucisson remains saucisson, and I miss it.
LEMON FRENCH TART
We French simply call it ‘Tarte au citron’. Let’s face it: there’s nothing that brightens up any day – especially a rainy one – than a classic French lemon tart. Any boulangerie in France will have a Tarte Au Citron on offer. Some are on the sweet side, others a bit more tangy. Today, I saw one in a coffee shop in Sydney, I starred at it for a couple of minutes. People must have thought that I was mad. I could feel the taste and the texture. I considered eating it there and then, but decided against it in the end. Luckily, I know how to bake a good tarte au citron. It takes a bit of time and the worst part is that you have to let it cool before really enjoying its taste (complete and utter nightmare). What can I say? I was reasonable for once. How boring.
MY LOCAL BOULANGERIE (BAKERY)
Of course I miss my bread. Especially my morning’s fresh bread…Right now I would give anything for a crusty baguette. I also miss flakey fresh croissants—they were still warm when I used to go early in the morning at the nearby bakery—which, if you lived in a French city, was usually around the corner. Even small villages in France had at least one boulangerie. We tend to be faithful to our boulangerie unless it’s closed, in which case we venture to the next nearest one, because we can’t survive a day without bread. That’s just us, I suppose.
Is it me or is the chocolate far too sugary outside of France, Belgium and Switzerland? I tend not to buy chocolate in supermarkets any more. What can I say? I have become a bit of a snob. And at my age, quality prevails over quantity (well, most of the time anyway). Where has chocolate gone? I miss it.
The list started to grow longer. It was all coming back to me. In no particular order, I started missing Danette, Chestnut spread (creme de marrons), roquefort, and Saint Nectaire. And what about Paris and its art galleries? I was starting to become overwhelmed…
In order to get rid of my sudden homesickness I sat down at a local coffee and ordered a cappuccino. It came right away, with a smile, and was delicious. Actually, it was more than that: it was perfect: the espresso base and steamed milk complemented each other well, and were at appropriate ratios. There was a silver lining here: what I didn’t miss from France was the crappy coffee. Let’s come clean here: contrary to common belief, French coffee was awful. It was nearly always burnt and the baristas routinely reused the grinds. Maybe it’s not that bad outside of France, right?