Whilst these days the march of globalisation does affect us here in our quite corner of France; we can relatively easily eat a “Macdo” (although still not a KFC!), we can go to a Vietnamese restaurant although not an Indian one, we can buy acceptable tea, although not suet and fresh milk, not just the preferred option of most French people UHT (loved for its practicality they tell me). Life here is much more in tune with the seasons than it was in the UK, at least where we livid.
This struck me particularly the other day when I found French strawberries on the market, whilst still very early in the season, I brought them home and my 13 year old son ( and 13 year olds are not generally renowned for their awareness of what’s going on in the world outside the internet.) “strawberries! already!” When we lived in England, whilst still keen for the English strawberry season, we were still happy to have them most of the year. Of course things have changed there now too I know and many people try to eat seasonally. The difference here I suppose is that it’s not new, it’s stayed part of life; mushroom hunting, gathering and drying walnuts, and making blackberry jam in autumn: gathering dandelion leaves and “wild asparagus”(rapountchou) in spring are so much part of life that it is assumed you will be doing it “have you gathered your walnuts yet?”
The rules of the seasons and the associated weather are a large part of life. Nearly everyone has a “potager” and plant according to rules associated with both the traditional and lunar calenders (plus a whole range of dictums). There is even much discussion each year about when to switch the heating on and off. In early autumn the houses are often cool as everyone waits for the exact moment to start the heating.