Living in rural southwest France has its many advantages, but cosmopolitan shopping is not one of them. Since Jan and I spent much of our adult lives in the large city of Toronto, we became used to shopping for wines from all over the world; choosing from a huge variety of breads, meats and spices, and much more. But in the Greater Daglan Area, not so much.
Things on the shopping front have certainly improved since we moved here, some 10 years ago. Gluten-free products (for Jan) are now readily available. Products favoured by the British and the Dutch (common visitors in the GDA) are now much more available in supermarkets.
But some of the merchandising choices are a bit odd. For instance, supermarkets offer all sorts of Italian pasta and sauces, but not fresh Italian sausage (like the fennel-seed-flavoured sausages we used to buy in Toronto). As for Thai spices, ingredients for Chinese dishes, and “basic” breads like bagels, buns, rye bread, pumpernickel, and so on — forget it.
One of the strangest absences (to us, anyway), is sherry. While supermarkets stock all kinds of port (ruby, tawny, and so on), plus Campari, Madeira, Scotch (blended and single malt), and even Canadian whisky, sherry simply cannot be found.
Is it a Spanish “thing”? Remember that Spain is a neighbour (and is particularly close to those of us in the southwest of France), and supermarkets here do stock a number of Spanish products — olives and chorizo come to mind. It’s easy to buy Prosecco (from Italy) but not Cava (from Spain). I’m not sure I get it.
Anyway, we now have a source for sherry!
By searching online for the Spanish fortified wine, we discovered an outfit called Bodeboca, and placed a first order for a bottle of Tio Pepe (the popular dry sherry) and one of a darker, richer sherry, oloroso. After just a few days, a box with the two bottles was delivered late this morning.
It was just in time for each of us to have a glass of iced Tio Pepe before our lunch (instead of the usual kir), with enough sherry (Tio Pepe and oloroso) available for a Spanish-themed lunch we are hosting for friends on Sunday. Hurrah!
I remember discovering this years ago as I was picking up some basic wine at the Sarlat Casino. An elderly gentleman (older than you or I) was standing nearby, staring at the wall of aperitifs, digestifs, and liquor. He asked if I spoke English, and said he was searching for sherry. I helped him look, high and low, and there was none. He said it was for his dear wife, waiting back at their accommodation, and it was getting dangerously close to 5 p.m. He was truly distressed, kept muttering, “Oh dear, oh dear, she MUST have her sherry!”
I suggested she might enjoy trying something actually French, since they were in France, perhaps some Lillet? He reiterated, “Oh no, it simply won’t do! She MUST have her sherry!”
Not sure how they survived the rest of their visit.
That’s priceless, Caitlin — thanks so much for the story. For Jan and me, sherry is a very, very occasional thing. The last time we needed it was for a sauce, and we wound up substituting cognac, which worked fine. In any case, it sure is odd that the French don’t seem to “get” sherry at all. Jan and I hope all is well with you!