Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baguettes to Bordeaux?

There was a bit of a discussion going on on Twitter yesterday sparked by this article in the Guardian which claims that increasing numbers of Britons living in France are having all of their grocery shopping, including wine and baguettes, sent over from in vans from Asda. Then l'Anglais à Paris reacted to the article with a blog post entitled: "Why the hell did you move to France in the first place then?"

You'd think I'd have learned by now not to read the comments on any piece of writing on the internet that is even vaguely polemical: no good can ever come of it. But I did. I had to stop, however, when I reached the comment that argued that many people had come to live in France because they felt their national heritage was being drowned under Polish and halal goods in British supermarkets. The whole thing was just getting too strange.

I do still bring stuff back from Scotland but less than I used to — paracetamol and vitamins are cheaper; Heinz beans are just better; and the children used to love Ribena — and I have occasionally ordered household items from British companies over the internet. I also used to take French things back to Scotland, but my Mum says not to bother anymore because she can get a perfectly good piece of camembert in Tesco thank you very much. However, I wouldn't ever think of doing a virtual weekly shop in Asda. I mean why would I? To save a few euros? And who would I complain to when the wine shop, the chocolate shop, the boulangerie in my quartier closed down due to my withdrawing my custom? Je n'aurai que mes yeux pour pleurer.

And if you haven't had enough reading for one day, here's another bit from the Guardian on the evils of Tesco.


deborah said...

In between watching a pair of blackbirds making a nest in the Virginia creeper on my 'terrasse' this morning I took great pleasure reading your post and the article and then the Anglais in Paris plus all the comments. I couldn't help admiring the Englishman's cool, calm collectedness when replying to various irritating people (I wish I could do that, I told someone to get lost the other day on a blog, shame on me).

Now it is evening and I have read the Tesco article which is so brilliant. Why didn't people cotton on to these crooks years ago? When I was young and ignorant I bought cheap food, I wish someone had pointed out all these things at the time and encouraged us to buy with the future of farmers in mind. It is all so depressing.

My cardinal sins have always been marmite and Cadbury's milk chocolate ... but I can occasionally get both in Monoprix in Bordeaux. It is more fun doing without really and pouncing on them when I go to England. Didn't the French invent Vive la différence?

Every nationality seems to have their rather tedious 'expats' ... all that nostalgia should last about a year, then one should move on and enjoy what the locals produce!

PS Sliced white bread? Give us a break!

Lesley said...

Deborah: Now I want to now the address of the blog on which you told someone to get lost!

The Tesco article really hit home with me too because there's one in Lockerbie and since it opened all of the smaller shops in the high street have started closing down one by one.

deborah said...

It was the same in my nearest town, Sevenoaks. The last time I went, there seemed to be five or six charity shops and new fangled themed pubs and ugly tea rooms. I never want to go back now.

Someone called Alain Korkos has a fun blog all about art and he does really interesting puzzles, the comments are often very witty and there seems to be a large following. Occasionally a few bods don't seem to be able to understand what he is getting at (he is very good at explaining how to give your opinion without just saying 'this is rubbish' or 'this is beautiful'. You have to say why or how etc and justify your statements.

On 17th May he did a post about The Singh sisters and I got annoyed with a fellow who went off in a huff. You might have to plough through the comments ... you'll find me a few times. At the end I decided to grovel! Live and learn, next time I must write a reasoned comment about how it would be silly to leave because then the person concerned would miss all the good posts! People in the Oldie magazine sometimes write and say they are cancelling their subscription over some annoying article ... well, where will that get them?

If you go back to some old posts I'm sure you'll enjoy some of the stuff he writes about certain old masters (and new)! You notice things that you just haven't noticed before. Here he is:

Lesley said...

Deborah: I've subscribed to the blog so look out for me expounding on my newfound art criticism talents in the near future.

warren said...

Very glad you have subscribed! Am sure you will not be disappoiinted.

Will now look into Charlotte !

Anonymous said...

If only it worked the other way around and we could get all the gorgeous goodies from your chocolate shop, wine shop, boulangerie etc delivered to us for a Friday treat in the office!

Lucy said...

Having resisted doing such a dreadful expatty thing for a long time, I confess I do now order some stuff from one or two internet places in the UK, partly justifying it by the fact that we are sometimes richer in sterling than euros, and it's a more interesting way of bringing it over. One of the main ones is the Asian Cookshop, which I'd quite possibly use even if I lived in the UK as it has things in the curry line you don't see anywhere else. And yes, I do like Marmite, probably more than I did before I left, ditto marrowfat peas, but a little goes a long way. My marmalade is home made or Bonne Maman, honest!

But I'm quite glad there are still things you can't get in both places.

The 'it's not our country any more so we moved to France' line brings me very close to justifiable homicide. I think I'll resist the article and its comments.

The supermarket's killing the small traders is not unique to Britain though, is it? People complain about it here too, but I think perhaps French people are a bit more conscientious about shopping locally and the supermarkets about sourcing their stuff more locally and without such crazy distribution methods.

One of our local maires is considered to be rather anglophobic, and to discourage the English buying of houses in the town. When our butcher was saying they had a new English neighbour a while back, I ventured 'The maire won't like that!' to which he replied 'The English here are better customers to me than the maire, he buys all his food at les grandes surfaces!'.

Maybe he was just being nice though.

Lesley said...

Lucy: Perhaps there are different sects aongst the expat population, or different waves. With the first wave being more local-trade conscious. I have never heard of marrowfat peas - off for a google!