Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is life really a bitch without big chocolate chips?

I am a very positive person. I honestly am.

I hope you, my faithful readers of La France Profonde, have remarked that I rarely use this blog to vent about the themes expats living in France love to whine about: strikes, administrative formalities, mothers-in-law...
But I do have a complaint today. And it's not about France. It's about expat bloggers bemoaning the unavailability of certain food items here.

I recently read a post (which I won't link to because it never even crossed my mind to be that negative) whine about how the chocolate chips in France are -- get this -- too small!

I know, I'm sounding old and I'm feeling old. But I was a student in France at a time when there was not a chocolate chip to be found, other than in one or two shops in Paris. And really, why should there have been?
My fellow students and I did miss cookies, which we seemed to think were a food group, so to make them we bought French cooking chocolate and hacked it up -- quite a task.

By the time I moved to France in 1990, chocolate chips, or les pépites de chocolat, were widely available in almost all major supermarkets. Sure, they're a little small...


(Photo courtesy of the excellent French cooking blog Goumandises)

...but they've never stopped me, nor my daughters, from making a mean chocolate chip cookie.

I can't help but feel that some homesick bloggers need to put things in their proper perspective from time to time.

Get a grip. Relativisez. At least you can buy chocolate chips!

34 comments:

Alison said...

I used to cut up chocolat dessert when I made cookies as well. Even when pepites did become available, I found them to be outrageously expensive, so I continued using a bar of chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie said...

Thank you for the cooking blog link. I will be trying out some of those recettes! :)

I haven't made chocolate chip cookies in years. I'll have to do that soon. I think I'll cut up my chocolate because I agree that chocolate chips are expensive in Europe. Besides even in the States my favorite chocolate chip cookies were the ones with pieces of chocolate in them rather than chips. ;)

b said...

Yikes. Complaining about how small chocolate chips are in France?! That seems pretty silly. I say, if that bothers a person, add more pepites!! :)

Oh, how I could just gobble up this chocolate chip cookie batter with a spoon right now!! Yum.

our juicy life said...

amen!

Lavender Honey said...

When I was studying in Paris, I had classmates from Asia who would only cook and eat Asian food, shop for ingredients in Chinatown, or eat in Chinese restaurants. It drove me crazy because they were in Paris for only a year, and it was their only one chance to enjoy French cuisine. I thought they could always return to Asian food for the rest of their lives when they return to their hometown.

poppy fields said...

Alison,
Nothing beats a chocolate chunk cookie :)
I've taken to helping out new expats in the neighborhood in finding the ingredients that they are looking for. Rare is the item we can't find these days, but sometimes you just have to know where to look for it. Take soft packable brown sugar...sucre de verger...I had to show a new american expat where to find that in Casino, but it is available!

Megan said...

Not sure if this is the same post that you are talking about or not, but I remember one just commenting on the different in sizes between an American bag and a French bag.

Michelle said...

I'm new here and just wanted to say that I would gladly give up chocolate chips forever (well, maybe not that long) for just a day in France. And I love chocolate chips! And I love cookies! So that's saying a lot. That person should just quit whining and drink some French wine.

A World in a PAN said...

Having lived in places like Baghdad, Tehran, Beijing, and more, I can totally relate to what you say! Besides, as a cross-cultural trainer I hear too often this type of complaint.As you say: relativisez!

A World in a PAN said...

Thank you for your comment in my blog. Here is my reply to your questions: Uruguayans start early in the morning by lighting a fire with very hard wood ("coronilla" or similar). Later they remove the glowing embers and push them under a special rack where they put the meat cuts. Meat is cooked bare, and most people accompany the meat with "chimichurri" a local sauce made with spices, oil, and parsley.

katiez said...

I've seen those little chips... It never occurred to me to buy them. Shortly after moving to Andorra I invested a tiny sum in a 'chocolate' hammer and, very happily, smash bars of of the best dark chocolate I can find. Chocolate chunk is way better than chocolate chip.
I no longer bemoan what I can't buy but love traveling around figuring out new stuff that I can buy...
Too bad some of those expat's are still around - I thought they'd all gone 'home'.

spacedlaw said...

And indeed I was starting reading the acticle and thinking "but we don't have chocolate chips!". SO it seems we caught up a bit (still hoping for peanut butter chips, though. That's be SO decadent!)
But is seems so like expats indeed to worry about such small things. I suppose it is the silliest things that we miss. I miss sour cream and butter with crystal salts. I probably lead a healthier life without them, though. And I enjoy so much more my tartines when I go to France.

Tinsie said...

I'm 100% with you. Some people really should never leave their homelands - heck, they should never leave their *hometowns* if they're going to complain about every little thing like that.

Can you get chocolate buttons in France? That's what I use when I make choc chip cookies :-)

tut-tut said...

Well, small is beautiful, n'est pas?

A card has been sent, btw; L sent a note.

Terina said...

i also would break up a chocolate bar to make chocolate chip cookies. we would never buy chocolate chips because they were so expensive. now, if they would only start selling root beer.....

Betty C. said...

Thanks for all the comments. I do understand missing some food items -- it just seems like this particular detail was a bit too, well, detailed.

Katie, that's funny that you still use the hacking method with dark chocolate! I didn't know a specific kitchen utensile existed for that function! It probably does make for better chocolate, though.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

I hear you. While in England we had American neighbors who went on and on about how horrible the food was and how they couldn't find anything they got back home. It would infuriate me. I got on with life and used/ate what was available. And when I wanted to make something "from home" I made do with local items available :)

Leesa said...

That's funny!! I like using "mini morsels", myself which are Nestles version of mini chocolate chips, I bet they are about 1/2 the size of French pepites!!!! Besides, it's not the fact that they are smaller here, it's that there are much fewer in the pacakage for a much higher price!! hahahahah... I would be one of those people (if not THE one who often lament about what American products aren't found here... But, I usually lament in silence... and not on my blog, unless I'm pms-ing or something like that!! :) I do agree, though, having some are better than NOT having any... and I agree with the person who chopped up a chocolate bar... like choc. chunks- that's a good idea, too. Have a nice week!

F.O.T. said...

Interesting you should post this because I made choc chip cookies last night. Frankly, chocolate chips (small or large) work just fine, like you said. However, sometimes I change things a bit and chop up the dark chocolate chunks---oh so tasty.

Susie said...

Anybody who is distressed by the size of a chocolate chip should, perhaps, go and live somewhere else. Like Burma, or Sichuan.

RennyBA said...

I think I know how you feel. You know my wife moved over to me in Norway from the US and missed it too. She also have found a way out of lack of big chocolate chips and make wonderful cookies too :-)

Nicole said...

Hmmm... No need to complain about SIZE! Size does not matter! (Except in houses when you are trying to run a business and have a tiny home but that is another story). At least there is chocolate! And chocolate tastes the same no matter the size, cut or shape (just the brand which I am sure France has some good ones).

BUT! I remember being in Paris in 1988 and try as I might, I could not find salsa and in a dorm room could not MAKE it too easily nor did I see all the right ingredients! THAT was a problem. Then once in Italy while staying with friends with a full kitchen for a few weeks, I tried to do Mexican again. After NUMEROUS stores there was still no cilantro, limes, refried beans or jalapeno!!!! That was TOUGH to do without. (We had brought tortillas).

La Belette Rouge said...

Do they have knives in France? And, I didn't know there was such a thing as too big a piece of chocolate. I have yet to come across one. ;-)

Randal Graves said...

The utter lack of availability is one thing. I hear cream cheese is hard to come by. What would I dip my pretzels in!

The Duchess said...

Chocolate chunks are so the way to go! I could never imagine going back to those uniformly formed little pepites now.
But I do remember writing home when I arrived as a student in France 15 years ago saying, 'OMG, the milk is put on the table for breakfast the night before!' Ice cold fresh milk still seems to be the one remaining 'thing' I can't seem to shake.
Although now in our local Intermarche, you can get just about anything, from Skippy to Dr Pepper.....

Loulou said...

If they're chocolate, then who cares how big or small they are! :)

Betty C. said...

Duchess -- I've seen Skippy for years but Dr. Pepper, never. My girls love it but like many American food products, I think they would be disappointed to have it available here all the time.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

So so true.
People are so funny. I never could understand how we could complain about the lack of certain things in France WHEN WE WERE IN FRANCE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE! WITH FRENCH FOOD!
Sorry. I'll stop yelling now.
You hit a nerve.
Becky :)

Doc said...

I have yet to find an American recipe that I've been unable to reproduce here.

Not one!

Adapt or go home, my motto, but then I'm feeling rather pro-integration today.

Jann said...

I would have to agree with you! France has eveything wonderful-how could anyone complain about this?Sometimes I think I put too much chocolate in my c.c.cookies. They get too sweet-hard to please eveyone!

Je ne regrette rien said...

not too long ago I marvelled at an entire thread on Lost In France devoted to bemoaning the missing white bread ... like one could find at Tesco or other such stores. speechless I tell you!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Shame you didn;t tell us who it was...someone on twitter wants to know...:-)

Betty C. said...

Anne, I honestly don't remember where I read it. And I don't twitter, so I'm not up on that either. I guess I'm just "old-fashioned," LOL!

Margaret said...

Mini-chocolate chips rock! You get chocolate in every bite. It makes me frustrated when people go or live someplace else and then want it to be LIKE it is back home. Embrace the differences! It sounds like you're doing that.