One of the many advantages of living in a neighborhood with shops is that we can buy almost everything that we need on a daily basis without having far to go and easily on foot. Our fruits and vegetables all come from the Saturday market, 15 minutes away, but in two minutes or less we can be at the fish shop, butcher shop, greengrocer’s, bakery, newsstand, wine store, or a small but well-stocked supermarket. It’s there that we can often find turkey breast or legs year round but we have to go a bit further, and only at this time of year, to find the entire bird. That was Bill’s mission last week because one of the large supermarket chains, on the edge of town, was featuring fresh turkeys. So, one morning while I was in language class he hopped aboard a 1€ bus, rode for 15 minutes to a shopping complex, and came back with the 9 boxes of chocolates that you see in the photo.
How did that happen? First off, Bill wanted an early start so without breakfast he arrived at the store hungry. Thoughts of our visit last month to Bruges, the chocolate capital, were probably still fresh on his mind. The selection of big, colorful boxes was overwhelming so I’m surprised he limited his choices to just the ones you see in the picture. Lastly, the prices were excellent—we can pay from 40€ to 150€ per kilogram at a chocolate shop while these started at 6€ per kilo or about $3.32 per pound.
But what about that turkey and why are they on sale at this time of year? I don’t know since France doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but the retailers have certainly embraced a much more recent American tradition attached to this holiday: Black Friday, sometimes parenthetically here known as “Vendredi Noir”. Laws are in place to protect mom-and-pop operations from huge chain stores that can afford to buy in bulk by limiting sales to a 4-week period in the summer and in the winter. Other restrictions about pricing and labeling apply including not being able to sell items below cost outside these two special time frames. I read one analyst’s comment that because of those laws, Black Friday in France is more about marketing than true discounting.
Yes, we did have a turkey for last Thursday and even though our neighborhood supermarket stocks marshmallow fluff our sweet potatoes were topped with crème fraîche, the green beans had butter with crystals of Britanny sea salt instead of mushroom soup with fried onion rings and our pumpkin pie took the form of chocolates, lots of chocolates. Our friend Pete asked us if we’d be able to eat all of those before Christmas. As we hear all of the time, “Pas de problème”!