Food at the heart of a culture


What’s the first thing when we do after meeting and greeting in a new country?  

We find out where the nearest food markets are and of course choosing to go where the locals frequent. So we are in France, where every other street has small food shops, for meats, fish, cheese, pastries, fruit, vegetables, coffee and bread.  These places meaning supermarkets and growers markets tell us so much about what foods are essential to the local people.


When entering these areas, we have caught ourselves smiling and saying

“OMG, look at all this cheese”, 

within minutes we are whispering in unison 

“Look at how many different types of meat/fish products there are!”.  

We then had to finally admit

we enjoy looking at food as much as we enjoy buying and eating it.


We have found many shelves of wine and a wide variety of cheeses/pastries/bread in France, pork and sausages were a popular choice in Germany, an abundance of fish in Portugal and Spain, with an extensive vegetable and cured meat section in Italy. We could not believe that in there could be aisles of pasta [and no it wasn’t in Italy it was in Germany], the squire suggested that I do not enter down there as it could be another hour before we left the supermarket!

All around the world, the emphasis on food is different.

On our journeys through this country we have experienced a meal is a very much savoured than devoured, and it is a social event as much as it is a meal. With such a fantastic array of foods in Europe, it’s exciting to go and purchase then cook up the local fare than always eat out in restaurants! Plus it’s a cheaper option for long-term travellers like us who love to live like a local and cook most of our meals where we are staying.


During our time using the local Fruges supermarket we have had an entirely positive experience even with our limited French we have been helped, greeted with smiles and friendly gestures, which says a lot about the local community.  It is of course much more pleasurable to buy our vegetables at the local markets.

The French do make great coffee, and when we come across a Le Torréfacteur [a place that sells fresh-ground coffee from around the world], we stock up.  These luscious venues make eating your morning croissant even more delightful when paired with a cup of fresh coffee.  We do have a lovely wee cafe with owners that make us feel very welcome which reminds me we are overdue for a visit!

Next time you go travelling don’t just hit the obvious touristy spots, go and visit the local food markets, get to know a little bit more about the country’s culture and the local people through their diet.

2 thoughts on “Looking.Eating.Smiling”

    1. Yes, Janis, we have housesitted and visited France a few times and still thoroughly enjoy walking down the cheese aisle acting like kids in a sweet shop!! Suz


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