Grace wanted to stock up on a few French products to ship back to Korea so we made a pilgrimage to a hypermarche. Think Costco – at least that's what Grace tells me. I've never been to a Costco anywhere – she's been to them in the States and Korea. Don't get me wrong – I'd love to go – there's one here just outside of Paris – on the way to Orly – but I just haven't had the need – or the storage space.
But we were going to be near Cora so we went there.
Whenever I walk into a French hypermarche I'm reminded of that Robin Williams movie Moscow on the Hudson – Russian refugee in Manhattan – the scene where he's in the coffee aisle – and faints from the overwhelming choice.
That's me in the cheese aisle. The sausage aisle. The yogurt aisle. Huge, high, wide, bright – matter-of-factly filled with foodstuffs declared gourmet back in the States. Want a stinky, funky cheese? Yeah, I got your funk right here – no plastic, smell-less, tasteless, food-less foods in here. How about a gnarly, moldy sausage – lashed with stained and straining strings? And yogurt? In the states it's so-called health food – here, it's dessert! Kids get yogurt drinks with their Happy Meals at McDo's! And when you have a full-on, full-fat, fully creamy yogurt – especially the ones in the little terra cotta pots – maybe in chocolate or caramel – you'll understand why yogurt's no penance.
Even the packaged cookie aisle leaves me almost weeping. Do you have any idea the variety of LU cookies? That the Petit Ecolier dark chocolate we covet so much is just the tip of the cookie iceberg. Cookie-berg? How about Bonne Maman? That there's an artisanal variety – with complex flavours like quince.
So we grab our goods – the most surprising product being a French brand multipurpose contact lens solution – that's usually only available at an optometrist's office here – at about half the price in my neighborhood – and it's still almost nine euros.
We stop at the Cora café – just beyond the registers – for the requisite café and cigarettes – almost any activity in France is punctuated by a caffeine and nicotine break – bags heaped at our feet. One is delicately set aside because of its fragile contents – three big bags of Lay's potato chips – Recette Barbeque. The French can't quite get the junk food right.