Writing this blog has made me realise how far I have travelled in just over a year. The easy option a year ago was to reach for the Camembert, slather it with peanut butter and stick a cucumber stick on top and it felt like I had covered all the main food groups. Nowadays, I only have to reach for the cat for a quick stroke to realise the importance of good, balanced nutrition. She is in peak condition, on a diet of croquettes and fresh mice, perfect cat food. I am not so shiny, but feel pretty good.
I promised you a handy guide to where to find good sources of non meat sustenance. Please remember that we live very deep in rural France. If you are reading this and you live in a big town or city, you are probably rolling your eyes Frenchly and muttering ‘silly woman, you just go to the supermarket’. Here, everywhere is miles away and also, my village doesn’t even have a shop!
We all love Lidl, don’t we? My vegetarian friend just did a trip through Germany and was raving about all the veggie delights on offer. She waved her hands to demonstrate the walls of bounty on offer. I just looked at her blankly. France Lidl just doesn’t deliver. Yes, its fab for all other stuff, like cheap fruit and vegetables, slipper socks and led shower heads, but it doesn’t really do veggie food.
Aldi, on the other hand, is definitely worth a trip. I am so impressed! It does a range called Bon et Bio, with not only slabs of tofu, but small herby sausages and burgers and slices, which can be eaten cold in sandwiches, or lightly fried. It’s all made with tofu, states clearly that its is vegan. It is not good for those of us who are gluten intolerant (if it says protein de ble, it’s not ok), so please check. But what a find! And, Aldi is now adding to this range with Bon & Veg, enriched with vitamin B12 and iron. I have stocked my freezer with boulettes from this range and burgers. I have this theory that if veggies load up their trolleys with these products, stock control will notice and produce and supply more – a sort of passive aggressive pesky tarianism!
I am very impressed with Carrefour and would go out of my way to shop there. If you head to a big version, you should find a truly eye wateringly well stocked Bio section, with a dazzling selection of seitan steaks, tofu thingys, sauces, stuff you simply rip open and cook.
And then, head to the chiller aisles and you will find the same largesse. It is really quite astonishing! I think I would go as far as to say that it’s as good as anything we might find in the UK? The only thing is that there is an absence of sausages as we know them. There was a ruling recently in France that producers of vegetarian meat substitutes are banned from using words such as steak, bacon or sausage if they are not partly or wholly composed of meat. MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau said in April this year “It is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly.” There is a fine of up to 300,000 euros for failure to comply. If you want to read more on this story, head to this link: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/23/veggie-sausage-food-france-ban
The best place to load up your Vegetarian virtual trolley is your local Bio shop, which is what we would call a health food shop. These are brilliant and have anything your heart desires. The shops smell so great too, sort of spicy, incensy and virtuous.
It can all work out quite expensive though and you might want to consider making stuff yourself? You can start gradually, like this.
How many of us have heard the following urban myth?
‘My friend Petunia had been a vegetarian for twenty years and then one day, she smelt a bacon sandwich from over thirty paces away as she walked past a building site and that was it! She jumped over the wall, snatched the bacon butty from the builder’s hand and devoured it there andthen and has never looked back!’ The story teller always looks triumphant, as if the next thing they want to add is ‘and it will happen to you!’ Well, some of us are made of sterner stuff, let me tell you, and we simply make our own alternatives.
Alternative 1: Take a kilner jar and half fill with boiling water, then add a good dollop of ketchup, or tomato puree, a slosh of soy sauce, a shake of smoked paprika, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar or honey, a grind of black pepper and gently stir. Then add thin slices of uncooked tofu from Aldi and place in the kilner jar. Fasten the lid, give it a gentle shake and when cool, put in the fridge. Let the tofu steep in this liquid over night. Then, drain, lay slices on baking parchment, on a tray and gently bake for two hours on a low heat. Then, butter some bread, layer in some fresh avocado, sliced tomatoes, lettuce…fry your tofu slices in olive oil and add to your sandwich. Delish!
Alternative 2: Fry up smoked salmon. You get the same umami kick as with bacun. Nom nom
Alternative 3: Check out this guy
Now, he is amazing! I have three of his cook books. Once sampled, you will be smitten. The only thing I will say is that you are unlikely to have all the ingredients to hand here in France. I simply order what I need from Amazon, including buying gluten flour. It all might look a bit daunting, but is well worth persevering with. I also need to add that you have to wrap the bacon really well in foil and try and get the strongest possible. I have had a couple of ‘explosions’- its a bit messy, but it hasn’t put me off. Let me know how you get on!
OK, that’s all from me folks. Next blog will be about great veggie places to eat and you might want to tweet me some places that you have found and would recommend. Thanks for reading and feel free to tweet me on @peskytarian.