6 May 2010



There are many differences between the way we live when we are in France and how we live at home in England. Breakfast is one of them.

When we are in France we usually take breakfast on the terrace, weather permitting, and not too early. We usually go to the boulangerie about 8.30 and are having our breakfast to the sound of the church bells at 9.00 am.

Breakfast usually consists of bread of some sort; sometimes a fresh flute or a ficelle from the boulangerie in the village, or possibly the remains of the previous day's baguette, toasted. Always with butter and jam - our favourite jams are abricot and reine claude. We also have orange juice and coffee. Maybe once or twice in a week we will treat ourselves to croissants from the boulangerie - not every day on the grounds that they are far too delicious therefore cannot possibly be other than extremely fattening and bad for us.

"His beakfast"

At home our breakfast routine is quite different, but with a French twist to it. We get up at about 7.00am. Nick takes Lulu for a walk while I get the breakfast ready. On weekdays it never varies. It is always orange juice, tea and cereal with apple compote and fruit.

The apple compote came about because one of Nick's colleagues once asked him, many years ago, to bring back from France some cartons of Pomme Pote - little cartons of fruit compote that his children would eat - on their breakfast. We looked at it and thought we would like to try some ourselves. We enjoyed it and it has become a habit for the last 15 years.

"Her breakfast"

We then found that you can buy it in big jars, which we brought home by the dozen. I'm sure the checkout girls thought we were completely mad, filling our trolley with jars and jars of apple compote - most Brits just buy wine and cheese.

We soon noticed that it is more economical to buy in large tins, which we decant into a spare jar and keep in the fridge.

It's interesting that we have never seen it in English supermarkets. In France there are shelves and shelves of it - combined with apricot, banana, rhubarb and other fruits. You can get it in large tins, huge tins and positively industrial sized tins, as well as handy little one-portion-sized pots and cartons.

In the UK you can sometimes find small jars of Bonne Maman compote which is really expensive. Or you can buy large tins of mango compote, which seems slightly bizarre - I don't know of anyone who uses it. For a while Sainsburys had tins of stewed apple which is almost the same but they no longer seem to stock it. So we have to resort to bringing a few large tins of compote home with us each visit.

The question is, what on earth do the French people do with such enormous quantities of apple compote? Putting a spoonful on your cereal each day would only account for a fraction of what is on sale.

Answers on a postcard, please !!


  1. In Belgium apple compote is commonly eaten with roasted chicken, beef stew ('carbonades Flamandes') and 'boudin' (black pudding). These large tins normally serve 4 people. depending I suppose it's no different in France.

  2. Breakfast in the Sims household varies from time to time, but usually it includes Vegemite on toast.

  3. Porridge. Always porridge. Cup of tea, fruit juice to wash down the arthritis pills.
    On the weekend, if I've got a newspaper, a slice of toast and homemade marmalade or jam.

    I'm now on my third porridge loving dog too. Because this one is blind, he is so attuned to sounds in the house and recognises when the porridge pan goes on the hob. When I get the spurtle out to stir it, he positions himself in the "look how neat I am but you can't move without falling over me" position. I think he may be saying "Death or porridge, woman!"

    Mad x

  4. I love french apple sauce too. (I don't know why in the US it doesn't taste the same. It might be the kind of apples they use).
    Maybe the reason why those cans are big is because, as Martine wrote, when someone buys apple sauce, it will be used for a pork dish, then finished as dessert?
    Thank you for bringing sweet memories.

  5. I love that compote too. I would second Ladybird's guess about serving it with pork and boudin.
    I use it alot in desserts instead of oil.

  6. Oh and I forgot! The base of all decent tartes aux pommes.

  7. Martine - we eat apple sauce with pork and put it in pork casseroles. Also a cold pork and apple sauce sandwich is a real treat.

    Leon - is Vegemite the same as Marmite? In which case I would find it too savoury for my sweet tooth at breakfast.

    Mad - Lulu loves porridge too. I always make extra so she can have some. And I sweeten mine with apple compote, plus a litte swirl of golden syrup, of course.

    Nadege - I have occasionally seen it offered just as it is for dessert in restaurants, the travellers lunch-stop kind of place.

    Dedene - I never thought of trying it with black pudding! And I will try it next time I make apple pie or crumble, I never thought of that before either.

  8. Hi Jean,
    Great post, your breakfast routine is very much like ours except we always go for tea and pass on the compote!
    I love your Derbyshire blog. We visit often and will look up the hall. For some reason, and I don't know why, I can't respond on that blog and Tim is in Dubai for the next week, so is not on hand to help. Could it be a google thing, do you think? My computer is a bit tempramental with google which is a real pain!
    We are counting down the days to our next visit to LPP and you must be too.......

  9. And there was me thinking that I was the only person in the world to put compote on to cereal without any milk. Isn't it a delicious taste? I think the French buy these big tims to do just as you and I do - only do it cheaper by maxing out the tin.

  10. This has come just as i was getting bored with cereal and milk. I'll be in France in 10 days and I'll look out for it to use for my first breakfast.