Have you ever heard of Iceland? Not the country, the frozen food store. They are all over the UK and Northern Ireland and sell their frozen burgers, chicken goujons (not French by the way, nuggets to we Americans), pizzas and I assume veggies too.
I've never been in one but they are famous for LOW, LOW, LOW prices and their spokeswoman Kerry someone who is famous for being famous in the UK talks about how she's an 'Iceland Mum'. Like it's a good thing.
It seems like the kind of place that keeps Jamie Oliver up nights.
This is what we've been conditioned to think of frozen food, especially entire shops devoted to it.
You can understand then, why it came as such a surprise to find that the French, world-renowned foodie snobs, have their own version of Iceland. The thing is that it's only like Iceland in that everything is frozen.
It's called Picard and I have come to believe it's the dirty little secret of French home cooking.
For one thing, Picard is closed for lunch--for two hours. Very French.
For another, it's very understated, only recognizable by its blue and white snowflake and simple all lowercase 'picard'.
They have lovely little magazines with recettes gourmandes for making fabulously famous French things at home with less of the fabulously famous French fuss.
They have 'aides culinaires' or frozen packets of buerre blanc, sauce bearnaise, sauce au poivre, and veal broth. Chopped garlic, ginger, chives and herbes de poisson for when you need just the right freshly frozen seasoning for fish.
It is a frozen food wonderland and I love it. Their desserts are gorgeous and you can buy whole lobsters and real shells filled with scallops and mussels in a gratin sauce.
I just got back from there today because I like to go there...love going there....am drawn there. The staff are always friendly, there are monthly specials--today I bought these cute little cheese puff pastries for nibbles--and it is all very neat, orderly and cold.
There are always very glamorously put together older ladies buying pretty little glasses filled with appetizers and frozen grilled aubergines to make a fabulous ratatouille for their extended family from Paris who are coming down at the weekend to visit the country chateau.....because that's what I've envisioned them doing with all those frozen eggplants and tiny, shot glasses of avocado puree.
Kerry what's-it can't come close to these scarved fragrant ladies.
And I'm learning. I served Michele cold avocado-cucumber soup from perfectly adorable glasses when she came to lunch this summer.
And when she complimented me on how lovely it was I just smiled and said, 'Merci!'