Welcome to our Brittany Blog
Thursday, 10th January 2019
A New Year Quiz!
Before you read any more, quickly write down what you think are the 10 most-loved French words used in English.
Apparently according to Le Figaro newspaper, these are the 10 most-loved French words used in English :-
1. Je ne sais quoi.
Apparently there isn’t an English word that quite grasps the quality of something that can’t be easily described or which has an indefinable flair.
This literally means ‘already seen’. However, when used in English it is usually used to explain a phenomenon of feeling like you have lived through an experience already.
In English this phrase tends to have romantic connotations but rather boringly in French it literally does just mean a meeting or an appointment with no hidden meaning.
Used to describe someone that you intend to marry. It comes from the verb ’fier’ (to trust)
Used to describe a woman with brown hair. There aren’t many words in French that need several English words to convey the same meaning! This is one of them!
6. Bon appétit
Always used by the French before they eat. In restaurants, other diners, complete strangers will also say ‘Bon appétit’ to you when your meal arrives. According to Le Figaro this phrase dates back to the Middle Ages.
7. Baguette and Croissant.
Years ago, I think the baguette was called a ‘French Stick’, but a croissant has always been a croissant.
This word describes a certain fashionable elegance
In France, this just means a normal shop. In England, it is used to describe a high end fashion shop and more recently the word ‘boutique’ is used to describe something small, well designed, highly desirable and luxurious, such as a ‘boutique hotel’
This French phrase is used to describe new and experimental methods in art, music and literature.
I would not have got all of these!.. my list would have included restaurant, café, apéritif and entrepreneur!..
Thursday, 3rd January 2019
This beer is not for everyone!.. Two friends in Toulouse (Occitanie) have combined the region’s local dish with their favourite drink, and created a cassoulet beer.
Cassoulet is a dish typically made with meat such as duck or pork sausages, and white haricot beans and is a common, traditional dish of the Occitanie region.
The meat juices, made from duck and pork, are cooked very slowly with a bouquet garni of herbs for over a week. The idea is to keep the flavour of the original dish, without keeping the fat, and making it a smooth, drinkable beer.
Flavour-wise, the beer highlights the soft texture of the white beans, which contain starch, just like normal barley malt in beer and this is combined with the rich taste of the meat.
This doesn’t really appeal, I may be old fashioned but I would rather eat the cassoulet and drink a real beer!
Wednesday, 26th December 2018
Christmas in France
Christmas customs, originating in the Middle East were introduced to France by the Romans. Reims was the site of the first French Christmas celebration when, in 496, Clovis purposely chose the day of the Nativity to have his 3,000 warriors baptised.
The fir tree was first presented as the holy tree of Christmas in Strasbourg in 1605. It was decorated with artificial coloured roses and apples, and symbolised the tree in the garden of Eden.
As in England, French houses start to get decorated in early December and we have found (at our cost!) that if you don’t buy your Christmas tree by 15th December you can forget it!..
Another custom is that of the manger, ‘la crèche’, which originated in the 12th century is placed in the centre of many towns. Rochefort en Terre always has ‘la crèche’ and some fantastic lights.
At midnight there is Christmas Mass, which in Brittany is very important to most families. When the family returns home after midnight mass, there is a late supper known as ‘le reveillon’. This meal varies according to the region in France, in Alsace, a goose is eaten, in Burgundy, a turkey, in Brittany, galettes with sour cream and in Paris, oysters and foie gras. So we get galettes and the Parisians get oysters! ...
Friday, 21st December 2018
Perhaps a bottle of frozen wine with your turkey?
Harvesting grapes always conjures up warm images of farmers waiting until late summer to ensure that their carefully tended grapes have received the optimum anount of sun before they are harvested before temperatures start to fall.
However, Vineyards in Savoie (Anvergne-Rhône-Alpes) have just started to harvest their grapes, and this is intentional, they aren’t just a bit behind their Bordeaux collegues!
Late December, as winter deepens, farmers of vineyards in Savoie rise in the early hours of the morning when temperatures are barely above freezing to pick the Jacquère grape whilst it is still frozen on the vine.
The grapes remain frozen as they are pressed and will stay below 3 decgrees C for the next 24 hours.
Then the frozen grapes and their juice are suspended from a helicopter and are flown high up into the dizzy altitudes of Mount Blanc where they are frozen for a second time.
This process of double freezing results in a highly concentrated, high sugar wine which I guess (and I am guessing!..) gives a higher alcoholic content.
This wine is very expensive and is not destined for our supermarket shelves!
Monday, 17th December 2018
French supermarket bans additive linked to cancer
Until very recently I wasn't aware of the additive titanium dioxide or E171 for short.
E171 is a whitening additive often used in toothpaste and other cosmetics, food products, and medicines. The additive, which is still legal to use, has been linked to cancer.
The Supermarket group Casino has become the first supermarket to announce a zero use policy and is to remove E171, from all of its products by the end of 2018
Casino have confirmed that this move may cause a change to the look and feel of some products, and some may no longer be available.
For example, their blue and white stripped tooth paste will now just be blue and Casino currently sells a biscuit which has a soft milk filling, but the colour was not attractive [without E171]. So Casino have made the choice to simply remove the product from their shelves.
Casino is not the only brand to make the change.
Earlier this year, sweet manufacturers joined together to sign a charter that pledged to remove E171 from their products by 2021
But the confectionery brand Lutti - the second largest in France - acknowledged that this could cost companies
Lutti, has spent several hundred thousand euros in investment over two years as they try to come up with ways to replace the E171. Therecis no doubt that their sweets will be more expensive.
I can't help but wonder, what else E171 is in, am I regularly eating this additive without realising it?
Tuesday, 11th December 2018
Pastis to make a revival
Pastis is rather like marmite, you either love it or hate it. Personally I can’t stand it!..and it looks like I am not the only one. The declining popularity of the spirit,which is usually known under the Pastis 51 or Ricard brands - has prompted the family business to consider importing much more of this aniseed liquor.
Cristal Limiñana has been making 100% Marseille pastis in the centre of the Marseille, in the Blancarde district since 1962, and now employs 12 people.
Currently, the company exports just 20% of its bottles, but demand for "Un Marseillais" is growing from Germany and Belgium. Pastis has a very distinctive flavour, and the concept of adding water to alcohol is a strange idea for many people.
Aniseed drinks are not products that usually have any international reputation. It is a very local market, mainly in Spain, Greece and in French-speaking countries.
Cristal Limiñana is hoping to capitalise on the current popularity for strong tastes, such as that in the very popular Aperol Spritz, and emphasise the family-made, independent, Provence-made aspect of the spirit. The ‘Made in France’ label is a strong factor in promoting Pastis which is gaining poularity in Belgium and Germany.
It also wants to increase locals’ knowledge of the spirit, which was originally inspired from an aniseed-tasting drink that was popular in Alicante, in Spain.
Other Marseille manufacturers are also aiming to improve popularity of the spirit, raise its profile, and target the high-end market.
So it looks like Pastis may make a revival!
Tuesday, 4th December 2018
Olive oil labelling questioned
If you are coming to France to buy olive oil, beware, not all are what they claim to be.
Almost half of olive oils sold in France do not conform to regulations, a new report has found, with many containing added vegetable oil, and falsely claiming to be “extra virgin” or “organic”.
The most common issue was incorrect labelling, which gave the impression that the oils were of a higher quality than they really were. Some of the labelled olive oils had rapeseed, vegetable or sunflower oil added to them.
A common problem also appears to be falsely using the “logo for Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP)”.