The French are Saucy, but not Spicy
Many expats move to lovely small towns in Provence and after a couple months being spoiled with ratatouille, slow cooked lamb, bouillabaisse and all other French Mediterranean delicacies, they start asking where is all the foreign food? It’s human nature to want more, isn’t it?
So pizza and the odd “nem chinois” available at the larger markets can be the extent of your horizon in some towns. Thankfully, there’s harissa and preserved lemons in many markets at the olive stands to mark the influence of Moroccan cuisine. But that’s about it!
Cook it at Home
Now, I’m not complaining (too much) because my man and I took to cooking curries and all kinds of particularly Asian flavours at home early on. We had, after all, moved to France from England at the time. International cuisine is the staple there! I also subscribe to my favourite food magazine, Delicious, which features recipes from all around the world on a monthly basis. I have to get my hands on those ingredients!
The French aren’t known for their love of spice. I once put too much pepper on a steak and had a Frenchie fanning his mouth as if it was a scotch bonnet! But, we can’t expect these Frenchies to be perfect, can we? They do have, after all, have Larousse Gastronomique.
If you’re living in a small town, your best bet is a large city in Provence. Many rural, even large grocery stores won’t carry such things as fenugreek, tamarind, hot smoked paprika, fennel seeds, Mirin sauce etc. Things are getting better, but I suggest going to Tam-Ky in Marseille. Stock up there to make your palate jump around with delight on that dreary Monday night.