I Miss Crème Fraîche

creme fraicheI’m a pasta hound.  I don’t easily get bored of repetitious food, and I could probably happily eat pasta 5 days a week.  But last night I had a hankering for pasta redux.  I just wanted spirals cooked al dente, with a dollop of crème fraîche, a touch of salt and pepper, and maybe (just maybe) a sprinkling of cheese.  The problem?  I had no crème fraîche.

There is much I miss about France, but I think crème fraîche tops the list.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s like sour cream but with a much mellower, subtler taste.  The French use it everywhere – salads, salad dressings, sauces, pasta, dessert, seafood, you name it, it’s probably used.  It doesn’t curdle, unless it’s low-fat, and who wants the low-fat version of crème fraîche anyway?  And it’s tasty, and smooth, and lovely to have.  Crème fraîche is as much a dairy-aisle staple as butter and yoghurt.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a part of English cuisine until only recently, with the burgeoning accessibility of international foods.  That means if you inhabit an English-speaking country, it’s likely you’d only find it in specialty stores or really big supermarkets, and last I checked in Toronto the prices were off the charts.  If you live in Central Boonfudge, New Zealand, the chances of adding it to your grocery list are exactly nil.

You can improvise or even make it yourself, by mixing amounts of sour cream and/or buttermilk and cream.  But it is no substitute for the original.

Are there any foods you miss but can never get?  Anyone use crème fraîche in their cooking?

– Jean AAR

5 thoughts on “I Miss Crème Fraîche

  1. maggie b.

    When I lived in Saint Louis I missed a drink called Malta. It’s a carbonated malt beverage that’s a soda rather than a beer. It’s overly sugary but delicious. It’s available at a major supermarket here in town now, so it has sort of worked out ;-) A bit of a drive but worth it.

    I used to have to make flan from scratch. What a hassle! Now I can buy little packets at the grocers. Yum!

    Both are real bad for the waistline though. I have had to learn to moderate. . . .

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  2. Goosie

    Maggie: I actually am super familiar with Malta here in MN. My family comes from Cameroon and LOVES the drink. I actually can’t stand it. But hey, to each his own? Hahha.

    I used to be REALLY sad that I couldn’t get Haribo Gummy bears. I was first introduced to them in Germany and fell deeply in love. Now, they sell them everywhere. Which makes me sort of sad because I strongly associated the gummy bears with Europe.

    One thing I do miss are the chicken strip from my college snack bar. I singlehandedly blame them for my freshman 15 or 20 or however much weight I gained in college….but they were SO good!

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  3. Ellen AAR

    I just got Rose Berenbaum’s new cake book and she uses creme fraiche in several of the recipes. I can’t find it anywhere, but who knows? It might turn up yet. I see things in the stores now that I never used to see, like dulce de leche (yum!) and even tripe. I see lots of crema, but no creme fraiche.

    Right now I am on a bread making binge and I really need some semolina flour, but alas, I can’t find that either.

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