Here’s a photo of the back of the milk carton that’s sitting in our refrigerator. While I’d certainly heard of vitamin D and maybe B1 and B6, I’m not so sure about B9. If taking B5 makes you look like that, give me two helpings please. But vitamin PP? That’s definitely a new one for me. But then, living in another country means that almost every day you learn something new, so it’s fun to see by the time you go to bed each night what you now know that you didn’t when you got up this morning.
Food has always played an important role in French culture. Just the words “bread, wine, and cheese” instantly invoke thoughts of picnics in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, basking in the sun on the beaches of the Riviera, and lounging fireside in chalets in the Alps.Where to find these tempting treats? Historically you went to the boulangerie for your baguettes fresh from the oven, to the cave for your bottle of Bordeaux, and to the fromagerie for the quarter point of brie. Luckily those all still exist and I’m happy to say that we find ourselves there frequently, sometimes daily when we need fresh bread for breakfast.
Occasionally we still need to visit the supermarket for paper products, coffee, cleansers, and anything else that we can’t find at the thrice-weekly fresh market or in one of those specialty shops mentioned above. While there for the first time it was easy to spot the bakery department, the chiller cases for cheese, and the tremendous selection of wines, but it took a while to locate the milk in this huge store appropriately named “Giant”. We wandered up and down the aisles for half an hour, double checking all of the refrigerated cases to make sure that we hadn’t overlooked the gallon containers of milk that we were used to seeing in the US. Purely by chance, next to the cereal aisle, we spotted these one liter (about a quart) boxes, the size of a brick, marked “milk”. There was non-fat, 2%, 4%, and 8% all waiting at room temperature to pour over your bowl of breakfast flakes.
Speaking of breakfast, let’s go find the eggs. Another check of the refrigerator shelves did finally turn up a small section of chilled milk but still no eggs. Where did we find that all-important ingredient to our weekend omelet? Right next to the dry sausage. While those bricks of milk can sit perfectly on the room temperature shelves thanks to a heat treatment, eggs come with their own natural coating that seals the shell plus hens in Europe are generally inoculated against salmonella.
So we learned where to find the eggs and the milk and in the process, thanks to the dairy’s website, that there are 8 types of vitamin B including one called PP. You and I might know it slightly better as B3 or even more so as niacin. There’s always something new to learn.