Well, it’s not what you think. Yes, the Accidental Locavore was in the South of France, and no, there was no snow there (sunny and warm). Out of curiosity, I wandered into a store I’ve always seen here and never gone in—Picard. It’s well know all over France, selling nothing but frozen food. It’s so far beyond anything you’ve ever seen in any grocery store in the US, I thought it would make an interesting story.
When you walk in, it’s glacial (looking, not temperature). Shiny white walls and endless rows of white freezers. There are categories for every type of international foods, with an emphasis (might be just seasonal) on Asian dishes. All I can say is that you’ll wish it was a shorter flight home and you could pack a freezer bag (they sell all different sizes) full of goodies.
One of the things I would have brought back in a flash was a big bag full of trimmed, ready to stuff, artichoke bottoms – extremely reasonable at about $8 for a kilo. There were eight kinds of mashed potatoes, from straight-up ones, to purple, truffled and more. Leeks come whole or sliced (because you know how hard it is to slice up a leek…). Dog food makes an appearance as well as that old party staple–pigs in a blanket.
I settled on a dozen escargots and some beef carpaccio. It was too warm for soup, but it would have been great when I was sick and craving soup. Even though the photo of the saumon en croûte was beautiful, but too much food and maybe a little risky for a first attempt. The other issue was that while there’s an oven here, it’s extremely complex and just getting it to microwave took me a couple of days to figure out, so if the escargots (which need a hot oven) didn’t work out, it wasn’t going to be a huge loss.
The carpaccio was pretty good and certainly easy enough to prepare. You just unwrap it, plate it and pop in in the fridge for 3 hours until its thawed. The basil olive oil sauce that came with it was fine, a little shaved Parmesan would have been lovely with it, but someone forgot and was too lazy to go get some.
The escargots were another story. I did figure out the oven and managed to cook them until they were properly bubbly and hot. The butter sauce wasn’t garlicy enough and the escargot were sort of flaccid. I ate a few, dunked a piece of baguette in the sauce and dumped most of them. Probably the soups and other less adventurous dishes are fine and if you don’t want frozen food, there are stores popping up that sell nothing but canned fish…