Sunday, April 19, 2009

To market, to market

When I first began to make a conscious effort to bring a bit of France into my home, the hardest habit to break was the weekly grocery shopping. It’s the way we live, after all. If you work, have a family, if your weeknights are filled with soccer practice, music lessons, homework, it’s convenient to have a freezer full of food and a stocked pantry.

But the French are no different: French women work, have families, take their children to piano lessons, help them with homework. So how is it possible for them to shop only a few times a week for their daily meals? As with so many things French, it all comes down to attitude. The pace of the day and the way they think about food and meals makes the difference.

As a practical matter, the big weekly grocery shopping is not done in France. If you have an apartment or modest house, the kitchen and pantry storage is small, limited. And while storage is a factor, it is a combination of thrift, habit, practicality, and the appreciation of fresh ingredients that influence the way the French shop for food.

So, is it possible to incorporate this habit into one’s life in here in the states? Oui, c’est possible, but, it takes time and a commitment to change.

The first change I made was to push back the dinner hour. Instead of eating at 6:00, why couldn't dinner be at 7:00, or 7:30? This would allow me time to make a trip to the market, come home and enjoy a pause, then take time in preparing dinner. Now, instead of an early rushed meal, dîner comes later in the evening and is something to be enjoyed together.

The second change came in the shape of a beautiful market basket, which I bought on one of my early trips to Annecy. I really wanted to buy a pannier, a traditional market basket, but when I spied this one, I bought it on the spot. It holds as much as a traditional pannier, but the I prefer the shape; it sits upright. Taking the basket when I go shopping ensures that I will buy only as much as my basket can comfortably hold.

So, are these changes you could adopt? Perhaps you might begin slowly by pushing your dinner hour back one or two nights each week, oui? Like me, you may discover that the evening is more relaxed, pleasant. And you don't need a basket from France to do your shopping (though I can make some recommendations). Today there are so many reusable bags available, and even the grocery stores are selling their own.

Give it some thought. I'd love to hear your comments.

Tomorrow's post: Le secret


  1. Great post, since moving back from France I have gone back to the once a week grocery store shopping, but I certainly do miss the smaller, fresher trips we made in France. I am going to have to get back in the habit!

  2. I plan on supplementing my Saturday grocery trip with one this afternoon to get some fresh items. If I plan it, it's not so bad.

    Regarding your question on my blog. I will have to think about some decor posts and accessories. My accessories lean toward the vintage side though, but I can put some things together. In the meantime, visit Parisienne Farmgirl's blog and click on her sidebar for "design on a centime" posts. She decorates in dreamy French decor with an element of the elaborate but for very little money. And you already have my accessory idol Mai Tai on your sidebar. I love her style!