6 Foods You'll Miss as a French Expat in the US

3 minute read

Most of the French vocabulary that Americans have is that of food.

From croissants to fromage de chèvre, French food is synonymous with a savory (and okay, sometimes a tad pricey) culinary experience. Yet the French expats in the U.S. often have a hard time finding products that both bare a French name and taste like what they’d find back home.

So we asked some French TransferWise customers in the U.S. about what foods they missed the most. They might be saving a lot of money each time they send money home with TransferWise instead of their bank, but they can't help missing these five typical French treats:

1. Le Pain

Sliced white bread just doesn’t cut it for the French, who are used to a baguette with a traditional crisp golden crust, with a warm, fluffy interior. The company Le Petit Français sells authentic frozen baguettes, made with all French ingredients including soft French flour that sets these loafs apart from their counterparts in the U.S. It’s sold at stores such as Costco and Publix. New York City chain bakery Kayser also sells French-style bread and croissants so fresh and decadent that it’s hard to tell they were not produced across the Atlantic.

2. Beurre d’Echire

A French cooking staple, this is a particularly popular brand of butter. With a savory taste resembling a mix of sour cream and sweet cream, it hails from the West of France and uses 84 percent butterfat (French law mandates 82 percent). It’s now available at the chain Fairway -- mostly with locations in New York, but also Connecticut and New Jersey -- as well Dean & DeLuca. The beurre demi-sel (half salt) version is particularly delicious, whether smeared on bread or used in baking.

3. Crème de marrons (sweet chestnut cream)

Over the holidays, this sweet spread is used to make Bûche de Noël, or a traditional Christmas cake shaped like a log. Whole Foods usually carries it in November and December. But if you missed the window to buy it at the store, various popular French brands such as Clemant Fagier are available year-round at Cost Plus World Market or Amazon.com.

4. Le Fromage

Ah, cheese. It’s to the French like pasta is to the Italians. The country produces over 450 varieties -- many which expats miss when they are in the U.S.. Whole Foods exports a full 50 of those, including classics like Camembert. Unfortunately that doesn’t include the tasty Camembert de Normandy, which the FDA banned from the US along with several other unpasteurized cheeses. Trader Joe’s also boasts a large selection of French cheese finds, including pre-sliced Racette cheese.

5. Les viandes

Often referred to as the “Champagne of ham”, the savory Jambon de Bayonne is one of Southwestern France’s regional specialties. Only last year in 2015 did producers like Duprat win permission from U.S. authorities to export their prided product to U.S. shelves, mostly in higher end supermarkets like Fairway. Kayser has also introduced a Jambon de Bayonne sandwich, New Yorkers get all the luck.

6. Dry sausage (saucisson)

This is another specialty French expats said they often had a craving for. U.S. customs officers have snagged the salami after French flights, but you can safely purchase it at a number of online vendors such as SaveurduJour.com or igourmet.com.

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