After one lives in France as long as I have — my American, Canadian, Australian and English friends attest to this — when I go “home” friends and family on the “other side” give me an importation wish list of quintessentially French things they love.
Sometimes when I ask them what they would like from here, they’ll say: “Surprise me.” That’s my favorite request. (Next week I’ll tell you some of the things I’ve found over the years.)
Despite the ease of Internet shopping, I have friends who are not at all at ease with the Internet. Others like the idea of a petit cadeau or perhaps a twist on a familiar product like cheesecloth sachets of ready-made bouquet garni to drop into soups and stews; a big, fat chunk of savon de Marseille; a vintage nightshirt from a flea market (the one pictured here, called the “Marie-Antoinette nightshirt” is not old, but similar to ones I’ve unearthed in the past).
My import/export expeditions work both ways. I have a handful of French friends who give me their shopping lists for delivery upon my return from New York and Chicago. I’ll tell you what they order as well next week.
For today, my exportation also includes: effervescent aspirin with vitamin C and bars of dark cooking chocolate to nibble on after dinner. Apparently this every day and very good staple is impossible to find in the States. (So I’ve been told.) It makes a to die-for mousse au chocolat.