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Two grocery items I cannot find in France

A-1 sauce
Low-sodium chicken base in paste (not tablet) form (e.g., Better than Bouillon)

Help! I haul these back from the USA every summer.

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  1. You say you are a cook and you don't make your own chicken base ??

    18 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      No, I do not. I spend enough time in the ktichen as it is.
      The recipes I prepare have a max of 6 steps.
      FYI I now make Boyer's Filet de Saint-Pierre aux Oignons Confits et au Beurre de Tomates with store-bought coulis of tomato. Beats pressing fresh tomatoes across a sieve and I can make it in all seasons now. Love fish dishes that call for red (Burgundy) wine.

      1. re: collioure

        Oh.
        What would happen if you had to do 7 steps?

        (Hold that parsley sprig, that's step 7!)

        1. re: collioure

          Process alert! For those who find making tomato coulis too much work, I suggest the lazy-man's method.

          Cut tomato in half crosswise and remove core. Flesh side down, grate the flesh using a large hole grater. Toss skins. Takes less time than opening a box and you have complete control over the quanity.

          1. re: mangeur

            But it doesn't take less time than opening a jar. And the product here in France is excellent. If it weren't, the French wouldn't buy it.

            1. re: collioure

              They're really good indeed but for slow-cooked dishes, I'm always happier to find the stuff from Italy.

          2. re: collioure

            May I recommend this tried and tested tip which may solve your problem.

            Why not take a little time next time you roast a chicken to turn the left over carcass into chicken stock, it only takes a few minutes to prep the vegetables and then simmer the carcass etc for the stock. Once you have strained it then freeze it in ice cube trays and then bag the cubes and keep in the freezer.

            So next time you need a little stock for you quick recipes you will have high quality home made stock in convenient sizes for your six step recipe...far more efficient than touring supermarkets.

            1. re: PhilD

              Excellent suggestions. May I add that once you've simmered yor chicken carcass for about 1 to 2 hours (that's usually how long it takes), you may strain it and reduce the stock to a glaze: that's chicken broth concentrate that may also be frozen in ice cubes as described.
              Can't see how commercial bouillon could ever beat that.

              1. re: Ptipois

                30-45 minutes in an autocuiseur, if you don't care about reducing the volume. That is easy enough that I always have fresh broth.

                1. re: PhilD

                  I always try to have homemade stock in the freezer, but one must admit that sometimes a small bouillon cube can help add depth to a dish pretty fast if your freezer is empty... It will not be as good as homemade, so no it will not be the night when you prepare your 3 star dish, but it can come in handy.

                  Like right now, I have 3 tupperwares full of fish stock in the freezer, but no chicken stock... so tonight I'm reaching for the cube.

                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                    Tell me next time, and we do a stock exchange undercover in Marché St Quentin.

                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      Totally agree - always good to have something for an emergency.

                      However, stock is so easily made at home it seems odd that anyone would need to import some from "home". I totally get the need to have those key ingredients or items you can't get in your adopted country (for us it's Vegemite and liquorice bullets), but for most things there are good local substitutes or alternatives. And one of the best things about living in a new country is exploring all the new alternatives.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        I also sometimes use the gel cups when I'm making something that has plenty of its own liquid, but just needs some extra flavor oomph.

                        (The Maggi Legumes de Sud has a really nice tomatoe-y flavor that's outstanding when chucked into the braising liquid for meats)

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          That is one of the reasons one reduces stock to a jelly. The other is limited storage space. I've never had one of those huge fridges that are quite common in North America now, and don't want one. My stock is in little space-saving (square or oblong) containers.

                          I will pick up that Maggi stock if I ever find it here or when in France, though.

                          1. re: lagatta

                            My freezer in France was quite literally the size of 4 shoeboxes. I simply didn't have room to keep enough stock to keep me going for even a couple of weeks.

                            I also worked and had a family to feed (and still do)-- I made stock (and still do) as time allows, but I'm really not going to feel guilty about letting the horrors of industrial bouillon besmirch the sanctity of my kitchen, especially when I cooked 5-6 nights a week (and still do).

                2. re: Parigi

                  I can't fathom that. I always make my own chicken stock.

                3. Pick up a bottle of HP sauce from the British section of the supermarket. It's not exactly the same (I far, far prefer HP) but it has a similar consistency and flavor profile.

                  Look at the Maggi or Knorr bouillon starters -- they're in a little cup of gel, and they're so good that I bring them home from France.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    OK. Thanks. I'll try the HP sauce.

                    Maggi/Knorr starters? OK. I'll look carefully.
                    Knorr makes a chicken base of the type I seek, but they don't sell it in France.

                    1. re: collioure

                      What about Kube D'Or? But I bought chicken base in Paris. Chef brand, Concentre de Volaille. I may have bought it in Detou. I can't make out the tiny nutritional info to tell if it's low sodium, however.

                      1. re: ScottnZelda

                        Kub Or is excellent, though not low-sodium.

                      2. re: collioure

                        here: http://www.maggi.fr/nos-produits-vos-...

                        available at all supermarches -- from Franprix through Intermarche through Carrefour.

                        and here http://www.knorr.fr/produits/categori...

                        I prefer the Maggi, but the Knorr are good.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I'll look at this rayon again soon. Thank you. Not sure I ever see the Knorr bouillon line down here.

                          1. re: collioure

                            it is *usually* (whenever you're talking about French supermarkets, there are rarely absolutes as to location) -- in with the spices and other aides de culinaire, and *not* with the soups.

                            I could find it pretty much anywhere -- the local Monoprix had it (in a town of 20 000) -- as did the Intermarche, the local Portuguese supermarket, Franprix, Carrefour, E Leclerc, and Auchan

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I visit just about all the supermarkets. Please note I want a product that permits me to take a spoonful or two at a time - that is, not dehydrated tablets. I'll be looking next week.

                              1. re: collioure

                                this is a gel-type product that comes packaged in a little tub with a peel-off lid. Each little tub makes 2 cups (500ml) of broth/stock.

                                They're absolutely positively NOT dehydrated tablets.

                                They're a far deeper, cleaner flavor than the cubes, with at least a little bit less sodium.

                                http://www.ooshop.com/courses-en-lign...

                                http://www.auchandrive.fr/drive/Perpi...

                                (Note that the Auchan Drive reference is for the location in Perpignan)

                                If they're available at supermarket Drive, they're available in store. They're right there on the Maggi or Knorr displays, right next to the cubes.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  I'll look and consider, but I don't think that's going to do the trick. I go though an 8oz jar of Better than Bouillon concentrate every 6 months. Lots of recipes demand a little.

                                  1. re: collioure

                                    I'll bite -- why would that not work? Is it just the "I'm dipping this out of a big jar" factor?

                                    The tubs are roughly a generous tablespoon/cuilliére à soupe....how often do you use less than that?

                                    In five years, I found only a handful of things from the states that I absolutely could not find a substitute or workaround for in France -- I'm finding far more difficulty finding substututes for my favourite French items in the US!

                                    Now I buy a half-dozen of the Maggi Coeur de Bouillon every time I'm in France. They're far better then Better than Bouilllon.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Well, I often use less or more than that, but I'm looking at this item soon. Thank you.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        I have a list of chiles and spices as long as my arm, which I bring back to France from the US. But this is probably particular to those who lived in the SW, and would be just as true if I lived in the other 3/4 of the US.

                                        1. re: tmso

                                          Try Epicerie Bruno in Paris -- I believe he ships, and he has a *very* respectable assortment of chiles and SW spice blends. (he even carries masa and tortilla presses)

                                          Barring that swing by Candlearia (just off Bld. Lenoir) and ask the lovely proprietress (from Oaxaca) if she might part with some of her peppers.

                            2. re: sunshine842

                              The Knorr Marmite de Bouillon looks like a winner. I will try it soon. Thank you very much.

                              Both problems are now solved.

                              1. re: collioure

                                good -- I truly do understand how important seemingly-insignificant things can be when you're a long way from home.

                              2. re: sunshine842

                                @sunshine842: Thank you for the links! My freezer is smaller than four shoeboxes. I'm going to need some workarounds in the future and your recommendations were very helpful.

                          2. I think la Grande Epicerie carries A-1 in the "American" section, along with Kraft Mac and Cheese and Fluffer Nutter, to name a few other items.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Nancy S.

                              And there's always Thanksgiving, on rue Saint-Paul.

                            2. Don't know about the chicken base, but amazon.fr has A1. I don't read a lot of French, it looks like the shipping is more than the sauce, though!

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                My American Market has A-1 at a ridiculous price + shipping. I live in the deep south of France. So shops in Paris aren't readily available. Thanks for the ideas so far.

                                1. re: collioure

                                  Humm, move to Paris, it's cheap here/

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    Wine is bloody cheap there, as compared to here in Montréal, but there is the little matter of much higher rents or mortgage payments...

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      I lost a reply here, but Paris can't compare to where I live. Sun, sea, mountains, charmed climate, great people, good food and wine.

                                      Real snowstorm once every five years.
                                      No mosquitoes either

                                    2. re: collioure

                                      Saw A-1 at Le Bon Marche, 5 0z bottle for a staggering 8 euros.

                                    3. re: tacosandbeer

                                      On Amazon.fr a small (5 oz.) bottle is 7.79 euro + 7.89 shipping. On Amazon.co.uk you can buy 6 bottles of the same size for £22,95 + 5.82 shipping to France (at least to where I live). Then again, I could swear I saw A1 sauce in my local Super U or Cora, so perhaps it would be a good idea to visit some supermarkets in your area...

                                      1. re: Bigos

                                        I'm looking at £6.59/bottle at Amazon.uk.

                                        No Cora down here, but I'll look at the only Super U nearby. Thank you.

                                        However, Amazon.uk also has Better than Bouillon at a very reasonable price, but they can't ship it here.

                                        1. re: collioure

                                          If you don’t have any luck with supermarkets, try www.amazon.de. They have 5 and 10 oz. bottles of A-1 sauce and they do ship to France (at least I vouch for delivery in Alsace). Amazon.uk has by far the largest, and the junkiest, choice of American grocery items, but often won’t ship to France. German Amazon has also quite a few things that may be interesting to a homesick expat, including fairly large selection of BBQ sauces.

                                          The www.iherb.com claims to send things internationally and they have quite a choice of bouillon jars.
                                          http://www.iherb.com/Better-Than-Boui...

                                          If everything else fails, try Knorr’s “bouillon de poule cubes bio”, with AB certification, available in most French supermarkets. If you need broth for cooking with, rather than serving as a clear soup, it is surprisingly good. In fact Knorr also has chicken paste as well. Before Knorr I used Bjorg Bio cubes and they were the best but the supermarket in my town discontinued it . Perhaps you will have more luck...

                                          Hope you will be able to stock up on those things. And if you are craving Aunt Jemima syrup, German Amazon has that too...:)

                                          1. re: Bigos

                                            by the way -- a "save some centimes" tip -- buy your maple syrup at one of the bio food stores -- I bought one-litre jugs of *real* maple syrup (from Canada) at the Bio-Coop for €22 -- not a terrible price, considering the freight and duties (when you're going to pay US$20 a quart anyway....) -- and far, far cheaper than the €6 little glass jars at the supermarket.

                                            They'll have molasses (melasse) at the health-food store, too -- good to remember for holiday baking.

                                            1. re: Bigos

                                              "try Knorr’s “bouillon de poule cubes bio”"

                                              Indeed, after using the little gelled bouillons for a while, I tried this one, and you said it right, it is surprisingly good, and seems less salty than other cubes.

                                              1. re: Bigos

                                                I don't find any A-1 sauce or KNORR Hühner Kraftbouillon (Glas) at amazon.de.

                                                Good ideas, but no payoff.

                                                1. re: collioure

                                                  Try these links for A-1 sauces.
                                                  For 5 oz. bottle:
                                                  http://www.amazon.de/Kraft-Foods-A1-S...

                                                  For 10 oz. bottle:
                                                  http://www.amazon.de/Kraft-Steaksauce...

                                                  Knorr chicken bio cubes, Knorr paste or Bjorg bio cubes should be available in your local supermarket, although getting Bjorg’s products could be a bit more difficult. If you can’t find Bjorg in any local supermarket, their website can help find the place near you that carries their products:
                                                  http://www.bjorg.fr/produits/nous-tro...

                                                  1. re: Bigos

                                                    Thank you. That does do the trick. Searched under A-1 instead of A1. Will order the 15oz.

                                                    And it comes as I am enjoying my first glasses of Ch d'Orschwihr Gewurztraminer Bollenberg, a wine I ordered blind with several Orschwihr Rieslings on the basis of one set of references in the Wine Enthusiast.

                                                    Salut! It's just superb with a minimum of residual sugar for a Gewurz.

                                                    1. re: Bigos

                                                      Well, I thought I was going to buy A-1 from Germany, but a couple of days after this discussion, I searched in the USA for the price and found large bottles occasionally on sale for less than $4.

                                                      So I waited until I saw the price myself on the supermarket shelves in the USA. Kraft has lowered the price, I believe. $5/15oz and there are generic alternatives for less.

                                                      So Amazon Germany will be an emergency source.
                                                      Thanks again.

                                          2. Picard will sometimes have little cubes of "fond de vollaile" and "fond de veau" that are pretty good and don't have too many weird ingredients. Otherwise that Knorr stuff isn't too bad...