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What to bring home (US) from France?

jsaimd May 22, 2009 04:41 AM

What would you bring home from France? What things are cheaper here than in the US or much better? I live in California where we have good olive oil, spices, etc. so I am trying to figure out what to stuff in the bags. Of course abiding by customs regulations!

I think chocolate (certainly fine chocolates are cheaper here), mustard, almond paste?, jams with interesting fruits? chestnuts, all seem cheaper, but maybe I am off.

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    anakalia RE: jsaimd May 22, 2009 10:35 AM

    One thing I've brought to people is chestnut cream, used for filling crepes or just about anything else. I'm sure it exists in the US, but I've never seen it there - at least not at affordable prices.
    Another thing I've brought for my parents (at their request) is honey. I think it's legal - I've never been stopped by customs, at least. France has so many different types of honey - try the chestnut plant honey and the "Honey of the forest" for two unique varieties.

    2 Replies
    1. re: anakalia
      DaisyM RE: anakalia May 23, 2009 04:53 AM

      Go to the Maille store and buy a container of "fresh" mustard. It needs to be refrigerated, but if you put it in your luggage right before you leave (wrapped in bubble wrap), it will still be cool when you get home. And the best of all...before you leave for the airport stop at Poilane and buy a big round of their amazing sourdough bread. It will be great for toast and you can freeze the rest of it. It makes the transition back to "real life" much easier. Have a great trip!

      1. re: DaisyM
        Delucacheesemonger RE: DaisyM May 23, 2009 12:02 PM

        Spot on regarding the moutarde as well as Poilane. l try to bring things back l cannot get in USA, don't bring stuff to save money. Absinthe, chartreuse VEP, Hot chocolate powder from Angelina, very strange cheeses

    2. hychka RE: jsaimd May 23, 2009 10:43 AM

      We cart off whatever we enjoyed on the latest trip and carries well. This time it was three bottles each of a nice red and a nice white, 5#s or so of cheap chocolate, two salad dressings, some mustard, some pickles and some cookies. Our thing is to open one package every little while to savor again "the taste" of Paris and think about making plans for the next visit.

      1. t
        therealdoctorlew RE: jsaimd May 23, 2009 11:29 AM

        Fleur de sel
        Preserves of fruits not available generally in the USA
        Artisanal candies, including regional specialities
        Metric cooking measures, so you don't have to translate recipes into American units
        Canned confit de cannard
        Unique/artisanal cordials

        2 Replies
        1. re: therealdoctorlew
          AGM_Cape_Cod RE: therealdoctorlew May 23, 2009 03:18 PM

          The metric cooking measures are a great idea. I will put it on my list for my next trip.

          1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
            ChefJune RE: AGM_Cape_Cod May 26, 2009 08:25 AM

            Why didn't I think of that? ;)

        2. g
          Greg in Chicago RE: jsaimd May 26, 2009 09:43 AM

          I realize that your question is directed primarily toward consumables, but I second the suggestion of picking up metric measures. Moreover, if you have a chance to visit Dehillerin, their inventory of cooking equipment and accessories is beyond belief.

          I bought an insanely cheap set of stainless flatware for 12 a few years ago for $130 US, made by Guy Degrenne, which took up very little space in the suitcase. It's almost impossible to walk thru that store without grabbing a whisk or two, a utility knife, whatever, even if it isn't convenient to bring home a copper pan or something larger. Everyone I know who has brought something home from Paris is glad to have done so, because fond memories accompany the items purchased.

          In short, if you have the space and are so inclined, you might enjoy a souvenir or two, food-related or not, in addition to the glorious French mustards, chocolates, butter, herbs, cheeses, and the like. It's a crying shame for the airlines to keep cutting the permissible baggage allowances. Best wishes.

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            rswatkins RE: jsaimd May 27, 2009 05:32 AM

            Some of the Christine Ferber preserves of unusual fruits (sold in the Pierre Herme shops) are easy to transport and make nice gifts.


            3 Replies
            1. re: rswatkins
              DaisyM RE: rswatkins May 27, 2009 12:22 PM

              We brought home her Blood Orange Marmalade and it was wonerful.

              1. re: DaisyM
                menton1 RE: DaisyM May 28, 2009 11:46 AM

                Saucissons Secs. In packages in the markets. Really, really good. Nothing like them available in the US. The dry sausage here has much less flavor and variety.

                Also, soap is really interesting (as in L'Occitane) and much cheaper in France.

                You might also try a package of vacuum sealed coffee from the markets. Carte Noire and Maison du Cafe are ubiquitous in that section.

                1. re: menton1
                  alienor RE: menton1 May 29, 2009 02:02 PM

                  <Also, soap is really interesting (as in L'Occitane) and much cheaper in France. >
                  hah... i just returned from nice and soap from l'occitane is more expensive there than here in usa. but artisanal soaps found in open markets can be less expensive and very unique. really nothing is cheap in france anymore. so bring back the unusual, not what you can get at home. we go every year to visit family and have learned that very well

            2. pikawicca RE: jsaimd May 29, 2009 02:05 PM

              Fraise de Bois Liqueur -- it's almost impossible to find here, and it's delicious.

              3 Replies
              1. re: pikawicca
                AGM_Cape_Cod RE: pikawicca May 29, 2009 06:31 PM

                Framboise liqueur to marinate my raspberries in!

                1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                  menton1 RE: AGM_Cape_Cod Jun 1, 2009 08:07 AM

                  Just thought of another item-- Tapenade! This is a lovely olive mash paste that makes a fabulous spread on crackers or bread as an hors d'oeuvre. Comes both in green and black varieties.

                  1. re: menton1
                    ChefJune RE: menton1 Jun 1, 2009 08:57 AM

                    imho, tapenade is far too easy to make to bother carrying home.

              2. j
                jsaimd RE: jsaimd Jun 1, 2009 12:46 PM

                We are from California where we do get good fairly inexpensive olives, etc. We are also not in Paris, but I think the suggestions will be nice for others.

                So far I have a bunch of chocolate bars - they are so cheap here! And am picking up some fine chocolates right before I go home. We have a variety of jams/marmalade from fruits/flowers that are rare in the US - I just wish I could find a rhubarb one I liked as they all taste more of lemon than rhubarb. Chestnut cream, bags of grey salt. The kids were starving by then, so we had to leave the store, but there may be more. We also got an olive oil. I wasn't going to bring any home, but found one with a very nice complex taste I liked.

                We may do the hard goat cheese that is a specialty in the south of France, amaretti because we are close to Italy, nougat, chestnut flour, fruit vinegars.

                And we will bring home a socca pan. We have Celiac disease, so we make a lot of socca at home - it is a fun souvenir.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jsaimd
                  marcia2 RE: jsaimd Jun 1, 2009 03:18 PM

                  FWIW, I see the French chestnut cream sometimes in Whole Foods, but can't speak to the price versus the price in France.

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                  faijay RE: jsaimd Jun 2, 2009 01:45 PM

                  I have brought some great stuff back that I purchased at the shop at the Musee des arts decoratif--They have items related to their shows and one of my most happy purchases there was a wine carafe that won a design contest that they hold and also a gorgeous silk scarf with a Monet scene.

                  1. beaulieu RE: jsaimd Jun 3, 2009 10:33 PM

                    Little round boxes of powdered Fond de Veau, Fond de Volaille and Fumet de Poisson. They are in any grocery store.

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