|The Picard store in Ferney-Voltaire|
Picard is my favorite French grocery store. Although they don’t carry milk, cheese (a necessity in France), seltzers (or wine and beer – additional necessities), salad greens, and some other staples, which means I make the rounds of different food markets, Picard is a specialty-item enterprise: they sell frozen foods.
|Picard's rows of deep-chest freezers|
Picard’s stores look somewhat sterile, with rows of deep-chest freezers packed with tempting packages whose alluring graphics of the foods within entice buyers like me to pick up more foods than the tiny French freezers could hold.
The company flash-freezes fresh produce or prepared products, which preserves their texture and taste. Picard’s non-GMO foods are gourmet, flavorful, well-made, easy to use, and do not have artificial preservatives or flavorings. But what makes Picard my favorite French grocery store is the choice and the fact that whatever I buy doesn’t taste like frozen food. Take, for example, frozen spinach. In the US, I could buy a 10 oz block of frozen spinach, but what if I want to use just a quarter cup? I’d have to take a hammer or saw to cut it up, or thaw out the entire thing and toss most of it out. Picard’s frozen chopped spinach, on the other hand, like all their pureed vegetables in bags, are molded into individual little rectangles, around an inch by an inch and a half, and maybe a quarter of an inch thick. I just pour out as much as I need and freeze the rest.
|Frozen cubes of pureed peas, pumpkin, and spinach|
Whether I buy frozen fresh vegetables, like cauliflower florets, peeled fava beans, or chanterelle mushrooms, or a vegetable mixture such as a Moroccan tagine or grilled eggplant and peppers, or salmon wrapped in puff pastry, or vegetarian pureed soups, or some sort of ethnic food (such as frozen Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, or Moroccan meals), or herb mixtures or sauces, or any of their mouth-watering cakes and ice creams, preparing everyday gourmet dinners feels like cheating.
|Pureed soups (all vegetarian)|
|Ethnic vegetable mixtures|
|Tartes and Quiches|
|Desserts (no calories, of course)|
|Ice cream confections|
|Ice cream desserts|
|The Picard insulated bag|
|One small purchase in my Picard bag|
Like many French women (yes, women still do most of the cooking), I’ve become dependent on Picard, and I dread to think that, when I return to the US, I’ll have to make from scratch so many of these foods that I buy frozen in France. Maybe we can get Trader Joe’s to carry more of Picard’s items (in fact, some of Trader Joe’s frozen foods from France are Picard products with TJ’s labels). Better yet, maybe we can get Picard to open some stores in the United States – starting with Oakland, California.
|The one frozen Picard item we don't need in the U.S.|