What French Expats in the US Bring Home From Vacation

Food on a table

Ask a French expat to open her suitcase when she returns from her native land  to New York or L.A. and she’s bound to reveal an incredible amount of loot — and all of it food. Here are 15 things your French neighbors stock up on to survive life in the good ol’ Etats-Unis.

15. A jar of crème de marrons.
Ardèche, all of France thanks you.

14. Orange blossom water.
This French dessert ingredient is SO HARD TO FIND in the US. By the way America, we need to talk about your cinnamon addiction.

13. Dark baking chocolate.
It’s just not possible to find this delicious chocolate at your local supermarket. Just one or two tablets should cover several months of lava cake snacks.

12. Syrup.
This is heavy but worth the added weight in any French suitcase. You absolutely cannot find this French staple in the US. We add these colorful, sugary flavor syrups to our seltzer, water, milk and even beer: a perfect treat to share with friends while you lament America’s tragic soda addiction. What irony?

11. Fleur de sel de Guérande.
Fleur de sel de guérande
To you, it’s an exotic item on the ingredient list of a fancy restaurant menu. To the French, it’s just something we out on grilled sardines.

10. Cookies.
Paille d’Or, Barquettes, Prince, Choco BN, Sablés Mère-Poularde, Galettes Saint-Michel. For the French, snack is a bona fide meal. And we don’t mess around.

9. Alsacien “chemical yeast”
Is it baking soda? Baking powder? We don’t know why but it’s different, but it is. Plus it’s light so there’s always room for a dozen packets.

8. Mariage Frères tea
Some people only drink this tea. It’s the Rolls Royce of tea and pretty hard to find in the US. Also very light.

7. Dried soup packets.
Winter is coming and American soup packets were made to be mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream and become “dip.”

6. Ricoré
French Postum.

5. Carambars, Dragibus, Côte d’Or chocolate and Rochers Suchard
We fill up on French candy but we are always devastated to have to leave our delightful Kinder Surprises behind — they are illegal in the US!

4. A good bottle
10 times the choice — at a fraction of the cost.

3. Really. Strong. Mustard.
US mustard just doesn’t cut the… you know.

2. Foie gras
Only the canned or jarred kind is acceptable for import.

1. … and cheese.
Oh yeah. We may be restricted to the pasteurized version. And it may stink up our valises. Peu importe. It’s still worth it.

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