Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Can Teach Us a Lesson on Being Local; FOOD

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Can Teach Us a Lesson on Being Local; FOOD

Article excerpt


I'M writing this on the last day of a holiday in France where I've been skiing for a week with my best chum.

We're both of a certain age and have been around a bit; certainly travelled a lot due to our jobs. And we had a conversation earlier this week about how, when we first started travelling, we marvelled at how they did things different abroad: funny electrical fittings, amusing toilets, toy money, odd sense of humour and so on. Shops, and even supermarkets, were always a place of wonder where you could see how different it must be in Johnny Foreigner's home.

Then came international travel for the masses, along with TV and films. No longer was abroad quite so foreign and we were all able to experience the weird and the new some more. That's part of the effect of globalisation, that is. But globalisation has that doubleedged sword that while it opened the door to the rest of the world, it was to places that were little different from home. All the light fittings and door furniture are now bought from their local equivalent of B&Q but made in the same factory in China.

Less and less seems very foreign any more, and to experience significant differences one has to explore even further to the lesser-touched but, as a result, rapidly disappearing regions of the world.

But France? Apart from the funny language and their politics (where else can rules be made and broken so easily to the benefit of the locals?), we might as well have stayed at home to ski in Scotland for all the foreignness we were experiencing. I even had a UK socket in my room for this computer and continuous BBC news on the TV. Nothing seemed particularly weird and wonderful at all; that is, until I explored the various farmers' markets.

I was immediately drawn towards those stalls selling cured meats and cheeses. …

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