All thanks to MidiPrix-- Bourdeilles’ little big store. Let’s say it would be about 1/5th the size of your basic Seven Eleven store, but scanning the shelves one sees there is very little need to ever head off to the big mega stores popping up in the fields way on down the road. Because after years of catering to exacting cooks, these shelves are stocked with an amazing variety of quality, esoteric choices. From canned green beans to jars of steamed chestnuts. From Nuttella to locally produced foie gras. There is Heinz ketchup for the likes of Tom and Branson’s Picadilly for the local British contingent. There is an excellent range of regional wines and drawers full of Haribo candies. One time I needed vanilla and was offered fresh vanilla beans.
She is the 3rd generation to run the shop. It was started by her great grandmother, then run by her grandmother. Then 40 or so years ago the reigns of the shop went into the hands of Madame Verneuil. You can call her Annick if you have proven to be a regular, relaxed enough customer. She tirelessly keeps the shelves stocked, hand cuts fresh meats and cheeses, takes special orders, runs the bar and coffee counter, checks us out on the grocery side, reminds us if we have forgotten items that we frequently buy, and takes time to visit and help with hapless cooks like me. Who needs an expensive French cooking school when Annick will share the simplest most delicious way to cook endives, leeks or the cut of veal that I am hesitant to experiment with - One time a recipe called for a chicken breast, there was no chicken to be had, and as I stared helplessly at the very french selection of meats I was told I would have to have veal instead (make do with what was available and fresh!, but thankfully I could avoid the blood sausage).... I had to confess to never having cooked veal - To this day I think Annick is a bit taken aback by my lack of understanding of some very basic french products and maybe even more taken aback by the concoctions I describe I am cooking up for dinner.