Monday, October 12, 2009

Les P'tits Cageots

Although I enjoy cooking, I don't enjoy the weekly drudgery of supermarket shopping. I find something soul-destroying about walking up and down the same aisles week after week varying the brands I buy just to buck the routine of always putting the same old products in the same old trolley. In fact, I quite often vary supermarkets just to spice up the housewifely routine: one week Simply Market, the next Casino.... I don't even really enjoy going to the market any more: same old stall holders in the same old places.

Readers, I have been freed from this drudgery. A few weeks ago a friend launched a new service called Les Ptits Cageots that bobos of my ilk were crying out for - organic / farm-produced /fair-trade products ordered over the internet delivered to our door at the time we want for no extra charge!

We've used the service three times now and I'm still wallowing in the liberation of it! No more whizzing round boring supermarkets; no more flaccid meat in polystyrene trays; no more impossibly shiny fruit and veg. This stuff comes from small producers in towns and villages around Bordeaux, the Charente and the Dordogne. It's all good.

We feel virtuous because we know we're eating well, giving our kids healthy stuff and supporting a good cause to boot — Les P'tits Cageots is what is known as une association d'insertion which means that it is a non-profit-making organisation that creates jobs for people who really need them and helps them (re-)adapt to the work place. I realise just how self-satisfied that sounds, but sometimes it can be good to be self-satisfied, can't it?

A cageot is one of those wooden crates for fruit and vegetables and that's exactly what our order comes in. If we're short of time and inspiration, we can choose to have that week's pre-selected crate. Perhaps it comes from watching to much Ready, Steady Cook on BBC Prime during my two pregnancies but I actually quite like having set seasonal ingredients imposed on me for the week and making what I can from them. Recently, I've made potimarron soup, oriental lentil salad (recipe from fellow Bordelaise Papilles and Pupilles' site), rougail de saucisses de boeuf (a dish we discovered in La Réunion), pears in red wine and pears in white wine with aniseed. We've had two evenings with friends fuelled by excellent organic wines and the tenderest faux-filet possible on the barbecue — until this week, the evenings were still mild enough for us to dine outside, believe it or not.

If you live in or around Bordeaux, give it a try. I'm sure you won't regret it. And if you do, I'll eat my cageot.

Les Ptits Cageots


BeefKing said...

But doesn't the online experience of choosing all the products you want eventually become its own drudgery? The same aisles all over again?

Also, what about regular (not super-) markets? Can't you buy food directly from the cageots there, and be out in the world instead of behind a screen? I like the experience of the market as much as the stuff I get there, and I think I'd miss that, even if I could get the same level of quality online.

Lesley said...

I suppose choosing my groceries online might become a chore, but it takes a fraction of the time that physically going to the supermarket does (and it's more eco-friendly since the delivery vans are electric).
I do like to walk round an unfamiliar market from time to time but I have a low boredom threshhold for them too - as I say, same old stallholders in same old places.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lesley,

Sorry, I do not know how to write a private mail, so I use the comment. I am a french woman and I am living in London since October 2008. I am wondering how you do when you need to see a doctor ? DO you send the document to someting like the french ''securite sociale '' ?
I let you mt email adresse (, if you can give me any information that could help me, I will be very gratefull.
Merci beaucoup !


materfamilias said...

We have something similar nearby, although only for fresh produce. Sadly, because I live on a small island serviced only by tiny (not car-carrying) ferry, I can't subscribe, but otherwise, I'd definitely give it a try.

penny said...

I also hate supermarket shopping and avoid it like the plague. After all, it is a 25 minute drive to the nearest main town from us! However, we are spoilt here in our little corner of the Ariège, where I grow my own organic veg, pick apples, pears, walnuts off the trees up the hill, collect chanterelles from the woodland opposite and buy local meat from the butcher down in the village. But I can see how the box scheme will benefit people in other areas who are not so fortunate!

Mim said...

I wish had this service in the States. Thank you for the post.

Jonathan Wonham said...

We had a service like this in Aberdeen when I lived there some years ago. The vegetables we received were grown around Aberdeen. Unfortunately, it was all too obvious.