If there’s a birthday to celebrate, it’s our job to take care of tasty nibbles and good wine. I have to say, we’ve become quite good at it. Over the years, we have collected our sources from all over the place – a fact of which I’m quite proud. The tastiest egg salad comes from our neighboring village and for the ultimate grilled sausage we go to the traditional poulterer where they still prepare everything fresh in their own kitchen. We have a different source for the best French cheeses, and are regular customers of the greengrocer from whom we seek advice, and from “our own” winery for wines. I can go on and on.
It has now become a whole day’s work to get all the goodies together (and many people think we’re crazy), but it’s so rewarding. Every artisan craftsman has his or her own specialty, preparing all their wares with that extra special ingredient: love. This is something you can feel as they enthusiastically tell you the care that goes into producing it, as well as something you can taste. And we are super happy to support them. Equally, it’s also good for making social contacts, because after a while you get to know each other and a pleasant and genuine conversation easily begins. In between our foraging excursions, we drink a cappuccino at our regular coffee haunt, a place we also know our two wee boys have grown to love visiting.
Secretly, I’m sometimes jealous of people who buy all their groceries from the big supermarket as this saves them so much time. And time is a precious resource I could sometimes use very well ;-).
But a little more effort for good, tasty and honest products is really worth it, rather than to quickly bring home something similar that might not be as tasty and with little regard for the person who made it or how. This is also our small way in helping to maintain a happy relationship between an artisan producer and the consumer.
If I think about it, this is really something I learned from my parents and which became second nature for me. My father was a true pleasure seeker and the ultimate ‘foodie’ who every Saturday morning did all his grocery shopping from selected specialty stores.
When I could, I accompanied him on his mission, since it was so enjoyable, with an almost festival atmosphere. And, as a child, I always got some tasty tidbit from every store we visited and without exception a lovely chat with the shop owner or assistant often filled with good, old-fashioned laughter. Midway through our shopping exploration, we naturally got hungry and went for something to eat and drink at his favourite cafe. Friends and family always liked to come to my parents’ house for dinner, and we are so happy that this tradition is now happening in our own family. As soon as tasty snacks are put out on the table, they generally do not have a long life, and we hear in no time; “This is so delicious, where did you get that from?”
Having taken up the baton, we regularly go out at the weekend to do our own ‘grocery round’. Our boys think, just as I did at their age, that it is a fun (and often delicious) way to spend a Saturday morning. It does take a lot of time, but we enjoy it immensely and realize that this is an important lesson we are teaching our kids – that time spent finding quality food as well as building congenial relationships are something to strive for. I’m certain that in a few years’ time they will continue the tradition with their own families …