I got to try all sorts of great stuff, harvest wine grapes, etc. but I could not deny that there were some foods from home that I missed and really could not find in France. Okay, you could probably find them in Paris, but I always consider that a place which is the epitome of France but not like the rest of it at all.
The short list of things a person could crave, even in the gastronomic cornucopia of France:
- Crackers, by which I mean plain old saltines, oyster crackers, Ritz crackers, and animal crackers
- Pecans - these were really hard to find; the common nuts were hazelnuts and walnuts
- Mexican food - France just doesn't have the critical mass of the right group of immigrants to ensure this
- Buffalo wings - the French caution about spicy things (oh, how they warned me about spicy ketchup, which was really mild by my standards) will probably keep this off the food scene for decades yet
- Hershey's chocolate - yes, I know Swiss and French and Belgian chocolate are lovely and silky, but sometimes I just craved a plain, waxy Hershey's bar
- M&Ms - Smarties are just not the same, although the color choices are better
- Peanut butter - You could find cans --cans-- of Dakatine, which featured a homely red-headed boy about to enjoy the product. But it was old-fashioned or natural peanut butter, which is a hard sell even to me. No wonder it never caught on. They never had Skippy or Jif or Peter Pan. On white bread. With grape jelly or marshmallow fluff. Or bananas. Or homemade peanut butter cookies.
- Popcorn - This was before microwave popcorn, so there wasn't even as much of it here in the US at that time. But when they did eat popcorn in France, they sprinkled sugar on it. Eww!
- Corn chips - At home in those days, we could choose between Doritos and Fritos. In France they had neither, as corn was just not a foodstuff for humans. Except for polenta, but that was Swiss.
- Diet Coke - In those days, diet soft drinks had not come to France yet. I did find Coke Light in Germany, though.