Fiona Alderman. Blogging from Rural France – the story of Nutella and more

This month’s headlines here were surprising. The brand Nutella, which manufactures a very sweet chocolate spread, recently had huge discounts at a popular chain of supermarkets. From costing 4 euros it was reduced to just over a euro, leading to stampedes in the aisles! I couldn’t believe it when it was reported on the local news that people were fighting and jostling each other to grab a jar. So much so that police were being called in to separate the crowds. One supermarket in Central France said that all the stock had been sold within 15 minutes but the casualties were more numerous after the fighting.

I know it is very popular in France, but this was excessive behaviour. Personally I don’t like Nutella but I still wanted to find out more about its origins? Manufactured in the 1940’s after the war, by an Italian man named Ferrero, who used hazelnuts as there was an abundance at that time in his region.
The nuts are chopped by guillotine, cleaned and roasted with approximately 50 to a jar, mixed with skimmed milk powder, cocoa powder, palm oil and vanilla it contains 200 calories for just two tablespoons.

It is now a worldwide commodity and in the UK and USA it contains soya products too. Later Ferrero’s son modified it , but it is such a success, people now fight over it! They even have a World Nutella Day on the 5th February.

Astonishing. Our local supermarket was very calm with no riots at all.

my way

The song “My Way “ and the French Connection

I have always thought that the song My Way, sung so eloquently by Frank Sinatra, was written by an American or even a British person? Non, it was written by Claude François who sung it very mournfully as “Comme d’Habitude “ after his girlfriend France Gall had left him.The lyricist Paul Anka heard this version in Paris in the 60’s and the rest is history. Buying the rights and rewriting it for Mr Sinatra, it would become a worldwide success.

France Gall herself was an interesting character too, recently deceased, her name is symbolic of the Swinging Sixties or “Ye Ye “ as it so weirdly translates into French. Gail came from a musical family with her father writing for Aznavour as well as Piaf. She was noticed by the great Serge Gainsbourg who wrote her a song for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965.  She subsequently won it but was allegedly reprimanded by her ex. Claude François as singing off key. It was an unusual song for its time “Poupée de Cire poupée de son “ (wax doll, rag doll ) However she went on to be very successful in her career. Meeting Michel Berger, another French songwriter of the time, she became his muse , both professionally and personally; this lasted until his untimely death 20 years later.

The song is still sung Comme D’habitude by many French singers today but has a slightly different meaning to the English version. Translated “As Usual” it focuses on the woman turning away bit by bit from her lover.  Poignant.

the cat

The cat who came to France

Eighteen years ago I came with our beloved cat Gemma to France. Travelling from Scotland with her own Pet Passport. and properly vaccinated,we came with a friend and lots of belongings to our new life.She was completely unfazed by all the upheaval I remember, and I think I was the more worried.

She immediately settled into her new home and was soon occupying the mat outside the front door.We called her the tourist cat as so many people would stop and admire her and take a photo.
She unfortunately died a few years later, due to one very extreme summer heat and we thought, never again to have another. But no, until a little golden kitten came into our lives who I called Fifi, after me of course?

She had several kittens, one of whom is called Mo , or “le dernier mot “ as she was the last of the litter, and quite a character. She is still with us too.

Sadly our Fifi didn’t survive either but rural France or wherever, they can get captured or killed by foxes. Mo has had several litters too, and at one point we kept them all. Now we have “the goldens” two beautiful gold coloured males, but are at the age of teenagers who are always fighting !!

Next month , News of the arrival of another little cat from the “chateau “ Fifi’s stories from rural France . February 2018. dance and film courses in SW France.

Fiona Alderman: The Crusaders' Convent
Fiona Alderman blogging from rural France: A new year in France

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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