Will I be able to find (unpopped) popcorn in Paris?
I'll be in Paris for 3-1/2 months (July-October) and would love someone to tell me if I'll be able to score popcorn. I eat it all the time -- it helps to stay away from fattening foods. And in Paris, that's not going to be so easy. I'd also love info on availability of other items I generally have around -- chipotle in adobo, hoisin sauce (and other Asian can/jar items; Asian vegetables), peanut butter. And while I'm at it ... let me also ask if ice cubes trays are likely to be inside the freezer of the apartment? I haven't a clue if cubes are important to the French, but they are to me. I'd even bring a plastic tray with me if I thought finding one would be hard there. All feedback will be most welcome.
There was a recent thread on the Slow Travel board about what people take with them when they're staying in apartments/villas, and a surprising number of people take ice cube trays. The ones you find in apartments there (if at all) tend to be smaller ice cubes, and it's hard to make enough ice if you're entertaining. But maybe you can buy the larger sized trays there.
I second the lagatta on not worrying about weight in Paris. I always lose, even though I eat croissants for breakfast and lots of cheese. You'll be walking a lot more, for one thing, and climbing stairs- and not getting the heavy doses of high fructose corn syrup that are almost impossible to avoid in the States.
Almost all North Americans I know lose weight in Paris - unless they are just there to nosh and drink, and even then, most will be doing a lot of strolling and climbing of stairs.
I always do, and live in Montréal, not the US, and never eat high-fructose corn-syrup (I eat practically no processed foods, deliberately living right by a big farmers' market here). Despite probably eating more cheese, and certainly drinking more wine!
It is easy to buy ice-cube trays in Paris - in supermarkets, hypermarchés etc. But your friends there won't spontaneously provide ice with a glass of water or other beverage.
Popcorn is not as widely available in Paris as it is in North America, but it is definitely available.
But I lose weight every time I go to Paris, and you might well find you do the same. Parisians are singularly svelte (in general, not always) - why? Perhaps small portion size, a lot of walking, far less hidden sugar in foods. I know very few North Americans working or studying in Paris who put on weight while there - I assume you are doing something, so you won't be sitting around all day gorging on wine, cheese, or pastries.
East Asian items are easy to find in one of Paris's many Chinatowns, especially place de Choisy in the 14th arrondissement (Tang Frères is the largest Chinese supermarket). There has long been large communities from former "French Indochina" (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) and now there are also a lot of Chinese migrants. Mexican foods are much rarer, though you will find them in import and speciality shops. You will find certain East (and South) Asian items as well as some Mexican ones, though usually US-made brands, in large supermarkets.
You could easily take a bag of unpopped popcorn and a good-sized tin of chipotles if you are concerned. I always take maple syrup - not for myself but as Québec gifts for friends in Europe.
In France, ice cubes are far less common than they are in the US. It is very easy to find plastic ice cube trays in supermarkets and hardware shops though - they are sometimes used for some kinds of drinks, but nobody puts them in water as a matter of course.
Perhaps you'll get out of that habit too... ;-) ...