There was a good piece on the Guardian Word of Mouth this morning by Matthew Fort, entitled Old Delicatessen And New Delis, which in short offered up a bit of nostalgia for the old style deli over the new eat and meet genre that proliferate today.
In truth, I miss the UK style deli’s (the former type he mentions) as here in France the Charcuterie is a bit of a different animal.
While the foods are indeed enticing, they are firmly and squarely centred on French traditional food, whereas in the UK there was always such a cosmopolitan offer to be had.
Take Wally’s in Cardiff as an example.
Stowed away in a narrow arcade, it defies the laws of physics in by cramming the seemingly impossible into the tiniest of spaces. They try to represent most country’s specialities, and exhaustingly attempt to source and even bigger selection to entice you through their doors.
It is scrupulously clean and all the staff wear crisp starched white coats and cannot do enough to help you.
It is one of the few places I have been able to get semolina flour to make bread, and I buy as much as I can carry to the car when I visit.
Sadly I now have to stick to long life goods as it is no longer feasible to take them on the long road home – 500 hundred miles is just a tad further than the 20 odd I used to travel to get there.
I console myself with a picnic style selection of their meats, cheeses and wonderful Arab bread, telling myself that less is more, and I will always return another time.
In the corner of the French charcuterie I have a favourite in Les Halles at the Thouars market, and am slowly working my way through the delights on offer there. Rillons de porc and hand sliced ham on the bone are just two of my weekly favourites.
On Fridays the market has a wonderful stall selling all sorts of Moroccan foods, so at least there is an exciting array of tit bits to be had for weekend meals.
Artisan bakers sell a staggering array of breads as well, so a quick tour around the market offers up a tasty selection of the highest quality.
Further afield I visit a Halal butcher who sells spices, pulses and a good selection of grains and teas, flower waters and the like. Around the corner from him, there is a Chinese supermarket as well, selling mountains of fresh herbs, exotic vegetables and other delights.
So, provided I am organised and decide on my shopping destination, I can still get pretty much all I want within about a forty minute drive………..except the semolina flour. I’m still looking for that.
My comment on Matthew Fort’s piece this morning