One of the blogs I enjoy reading recently had a post about whether or not anyone should consider moving to France. You can read the original post here.
The writer suggests a few things you have to learn to live with if you are going to survive in France, one of which being the raw food handling practices in the boucherie, charcuterie and poissonnerie.
I have witnessed for myself all over France the relaxed hygiene practices that I sometimes feel slightly unsure about.
On the middle Sunday of a gloriously sunny holiday I popped down the hill to the butcher’s shop in the village to buy something for dinner. I asked for two pork chops and whilst I was at it, as they would be closed the next day, asked for two veal escalopes as well.
The butcher’s shop in Le Grand-Pressigny is run by a delightful couple, M. and Mme Poupeau. They are always friendly and helpful and their meat is top quality and delicious.
On this occasion, whilst M. Poupeau was busy wrapping my meat, I glanced at the cooked meat section and had a sudden fancy for a couple of slices of roast pork for our lunch. I asked for these and M. Poupeau obliged, pulling the pork joint from the cabinet and slicing two tranches, moving seamlessly from the task of weighing and wrapping our raw meat without apparently stopping to wash his hands. It took a moment for this to register and it also occurred to me that he could have handled the till, knives, scales, and goodness knows what else immediately after handling raw meat. Hmmmm……
I paid up and left the shop. What to do …..?
On the way back up the hill I had a minute or two to think about it.
- Their meat is probably local and from a good source, not like the supermarket meat we sometimes buy at home, which comes from heaven knows where.
- This was obviously standard practice in France – we had seen it before.
- Cross-contamination of food must be so common that if we were really at risk, so many people would have been poisoned by now that most boucheries in France would have been closed down if there was a serious problem.
- Wouldn’t they ??
Should I tell Nick? We had both had nasty bouts of food poisoning in the past and Nick is particularly paranoid about it. I could say nothing and put the cooked meat straight in the bin. Or I could just let us eat it and wait and see what happened.
What would you have done? And what do you think I did?