Small miracle: Bob’s Red Mill, in France!


Comfort food will get you every time. Here I am in the land of pain au chocolat on every street corner and every breakfast I have been thinking, you know, I would love a bowl of oatmeal. Then I console myself with that pain au chocolat. Gotta make do.

For a brief, shining moment, they had it at Bon Marché. Then Markal moved in with their flocons d’avoine, I think it’s called. It’s organic, it’s French, it’s a lot cheaper than Bob’s. That it has no flavor and no texture, well, what right-thinking Frenchie would look up from his/her tartine beurre/confiture to even notice?

However, that brief appearance was proof that the Red Mill was exporting to France. The local US food shops didn’t have it; “how about some Froot Loops?” At least they laughed.

I was forced, forced, to check out Amazon. And here is the result. Four bags, delivered to my apartment, within 24 hours and on a Saturday. Ah, comfortably breakfasted, once again.

Truck Stop Find: confiture


Sorry, it’s gone. We ate the whole jar in about three mornings. But I want the recipe so much that I’m going to have to make one up.

I have taken to driving down to the house. The train is cheaper and more convenient but I’m still in the “transition” phase, so I often find myself with a carload of stuff that should really be down there. So off I go, but it can get pretty boring. Thus the truck stops.

In the States I liked that the better-stocked truck stops had every imaginable small appliance for folks who spent too much time on the road. All kinds of things were fitted with a cigarette lighter power plug: vacuum cleaners and radar detectors, of course, but also little water heaters, coffee makers, toaster ovens, you name it. I loved it. This was before the days of hookers and drugs at the truck stops, at least as far as I knew, so it was great fun.

Now the best truck stops — “aires,” they call them here — are found along the routes to Normandy so, well, I don’t get to use them. I do take the pay roads, so I miss the little roadside restaurants that cater to truck drivers. Back in the day, I’m sure they were often terrific, but that’s over. These days I just pull off to buy cheaper gas. Hot tip for fellow car-crazed fools: Chemillé has a Leclerc right there (I think it’s the A11, could be A10), easy on, easy off, gas that’s 20 or more centimes per liter cheaper than the aires. Michelin’s green guides should add a “worth a detour” category for this sort of thing.

I guess to counter the entirely accurate argument that the toll roads are bleeding local businesses to death, I find that the aires often have a section that sells local products. I look for those and buy a fair amount of my food there. No serious food, but the jams and jellies, maybe a bottle of something, why not, it’s good stuff. Unlike the sodas, I have not found the prices to be marked up. I doubt that our little tourist purchases do much to counter the relentless tide of Big Business but really, what will?

Which aire carried this utterly delectable gingery goodness? I wish I could remember. I’d go back and buy a case.