Like the time I bought what I thought was bacon. It looked just like it, only thicker, but when I cooked it, it shriveled up and turned gray. It was disgusting, tough, practically inedible. Yuck. The kids were so disappointed. (For your reference, it was lard maigre. I still don't know what you're supposed to do with it, but don't fry it like bacon!)
And then there's the yogurt. The dairy aisles here are overwhelming! At home I used to make my own yogurt because I didn't like all the sugary, gelatin-filled options available. Here, no way. The yogurt is amazing!
And then there's the stuff that looks like yogurt but isn't: fromage frais, something I'd never heard of at home. It's delicious -- very thick and creamy (and probably full of fat, but who cares? It's worth it!).
It confused me at first. Remember this?
I finally asked someone at a grocery store what that Stoffi was and it turns out it's another kind of fromage frais, made in Luxembourg and very high quality, according to the woman I asked. Plus, she said, you can get money back for recycling the glass jar which you can't for the other stuff.
Speaking of which, I'm getting very brave about asking random shoppers (who can ever find a store employee when you need one? Plus, in my experience, they're not too friendly.) about mysterious food items. Without exception, I've gotten a friendly, detailed explanation of the item. I love it! It makes grocery shopping so much more fun if I can learn something useful! I've found French people give the best explanations. They really know what they're talking about and they seem to love sharing their knowledge.
So it's my new mission to ask about one mysterious grocery item every shopping trip. Today it was this, galette des rois. I've noticed they're all over the stores now. I thought it must be some kind of cake for New Year's, but it's not. It's for the 6th of January, Epiphany, the day the three wise men (kings?) brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
Oh, the things you learn living in such a Catholic country. The woman I asked was really surprised I didn't know about it. "Aren't there Catholics in the U.S.?," she asked. Sure, but I don't think I've ever seen one of these cakes there. Have you?
Here's what ours looks like:
|We're not Catholic. We'll be eating this on New Year's. It'll be stale by Jan. 6!|
There were two flavors, frangipane, which I had to ask about (almond powder, mixed with cream and sugar) and apple. We went for the apple.
Anyway, there's a little object (the one she showed me was a baby) hidden in the cake and whoever gets it in their slice becomes the king or queen and wears the crown. Sounds like fun...as long as you don't choke or break a tooth.
On second thought, I think I know why I've never seen one of these cakes in the U.S.
Since there are dozens of unfamiliar foods, I often end up googling my purchases. Next on my google list:
Unfortunately for me, everything's on this one's written in German, which may as well be Greek to me. So off to Google I go. I'm sure hoping this is chicken stock because jarred or canned broth isn't available here. Everyone uses bouillon cubes or these little gelatin things that you mix with water. They're delicious but not very convenient when you just need a cup of broth.
Oh, and these things:
I'm not sure what they are (parsnips?) but I put them in a chicken pot pie last night and they were pretty good.
And then there's our New Year's Day meal. Since Roger's from Texas, I usually make the traditional southern meal, ham, greens and black eyed peas, all foods supposed to bring good luck in the new year.
Fortunately, I was able to find all these things here in Luxembourg... or at least I think I did.
Do these look like greens of some kind to you?
Whatever they are, I'm planning on chopping them up and cooking them with some lardons, one of my favorite discoveries here.
And this. I'm pretty sure it's ham, I know it's pork, let's just hope I'll be able to figure out how to cook it. I really hope it's not a huge hunk of lard maigre. I need to google this one right away.
The black-eyed peas were no problem. Those I found. Since I didn't see any friendly shoppers to ask about these other things, I'm just going to experiment and hope for the best.
I'll let you know how it turns out!