Mavis Pryor on cheese, and one restaurant’s idea of the veggie option

I have now been living in France since June 2003, you might ask has it been difficult, well if you are used to eating convenience foods then yes it has. But we all have to learn to adjust and so I cook a lot more than I used to, but unlike when I lived in England I have plenty of time on my hands now.

Don’t be fooled by the convenience foods that are sold in the supermarket although you may find what you think is frozen foods containing just cheese most have either ham or turkey included but it does not say this on the packet unless you look very closely at the ingredients which is difficult to do when you have left your glasses at home.

I have also just recently found out that most cheeses in France are processed using animal rennet only two manufacturers in France make cheeses with vegetable rennet and they are called Milleret and Öma although I have found two cream cheeses made by Milleret in the local supermarket as yet I have not been able to find any made by Öma.

Eating out is extremely difficult especially with the situation regarding the cheese; I cannot even go to a Pizzeria now. There are very few Restaurants where you will find any Vegetarian meals on the menu, you can ask if they will prepare something for you, even this can be hazardous as you could end up with fish on your plate. You have to make it plain when booking that you do not eat meat or fish.

As you can imagine I hardly ever eat out, when I have I must say that it is an experience. Because very few French people understand the concept of vegetarism they are very unimaginative. We recently went out for a meal with my sister-in-law and her husband in Gaillac and my brother-in-law had told the restaurant at the time of booking that there was one vegetarian and they said there would not be a problem and they would prepare something for me. The starter consisted of sliced tomatoes and several different types of lettuce, although rather plain it tasted nice with the salad dressing and then for my main course which was served up rather nicely on a plate with a silver platter over it, once all the meals were served the proprietors came and removed the platters, I felt that we were all expected to gasp with pleasure, I looked at mine and was rather bemused, it consisted of three separate mounds of vegetables, one dark cabbage, one green lentils and the other white haricot beans which also contained bits of bacon. Well what could I say I pushed the beans to one side and eat the remaining vegetables, luckily I was not paying for the meal.

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