27 December 2012

It happened again

Yesterday we decided to drive over to the big town of Vierzon (pop. 27,500), about 75 km east of Saint-Aignan on the Cher River. It takes an hour, mostly by (toll = 5€) autoroute, to get there. One point of the trip was to take the car out at high speed (130 kph) in low gears (4th) to continue burning the carbon out of the engine in preparation for a new contrôle technique in January.

Another point was to do some shopping at the Grand Frais produce and grocery store that's over there. We were especially looking for vegetables, and we got what we wanted: panais (parsnips), topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes), rutabagas, choux de Bruxelles, céleri-branches (as opposed to céleri-rave), gombos (okra), pommes de terre, and more. Grand Frais is a good store that offers a wide selection at good prices. A lot of the fruits and vegetables are imported, I'm sure (many come from the tropics), but so be it.

A sampling of the vegetables we found at Grand Frais in Vierzon. For those of you who live in the 37
(Indre-et-Loire), I'll note that there are no Grand Frais grocery stores in that département (or in the 86).

Preparing for the trip, we looked up Grand Frais on the internet to make sure that the Vierzon store would be open on December 26. And when we did, we noticed that the store was offering a promotional price on what they called dindes blanches ("white" turkeys, which I think means that they are not free-range birds) at 5.49 €/kg. Walt had been saying that this week he hoped to find a turkey we could put in the freezer to have in January or February.

So when we got to the store — which is sort of like a Trader Joe's in that it carries a full line of produce and groceries, including meat and dairy, but no non-food items — we went to the butcher counter and looked at the turkeys on offer. They were expensive (40 to 60 € apiece) and we didn't see any at the advertised special price. I asked the people behind the counter.

Today's cooking project: jarret de porc frais (fresh, unsmoked hamhock) poached with
aromatic vegetables, later to be browned in the oven with roasted root vegetables

One employee said she didn't know anything about it, and she asked the man working with her, who was busy cutting meat. He said they didn't have any more of the less expensive turkeys. "In fact, that promotion ran out the week before Christmas," he said. "It's too late." I told him that on the store's web site, it said clearly that the turkeys were on special offer until the end of December. Oh no, he said; vous vous trompez (you're wrong).

Then the woman working with him pointed to a huge poster on the wall behind the meat counter. Dindes blanches, offre spéciale, 5,49 €/kg. Offre valable jusqu'au 31 décembre. So there it was. "On that's an error, obviously," the man said. "We sold all those turkeys a long time ago."

A screen capture from the Grand Frais web site

I don't know about you, but I find that very frustrating. It's false advertising, and there is no offer of a rain check (though we wouldn't drive all the way back over there later just to get a turkey at that price). It happens to me more frequently than I want to dwell on that stores around here don't have the products they advertise at the published prices. It doesn't faze the employees to tell you they are désolés but there's nothing they can do about it.

By the way, the car ran great at 80 mph (the speed limit on the autoroute) in 4th gear at between 3000 and 3500 RPMs, for nearly an hour. I hope the high revs and the fuel additive are doing their job. I'm having a lot of fun driving like a racecar driver instead of like somebody's vieux grand-père.


  1. There's that typical French clerk attitude. Even with the sign in front of him ,the jerk insisted you were wrong. I would not have been as polite as you.

  2. It sounds typical of the French "take it or leave it" attitude that we have occasionally encountered. No doubt if you are born and bred in France you accept that that's how it is.

    It does also happen in the UK, that the product is sold out before the offer ends. Shops get round that by putting "while stocks last" in the advert.

    Do you think you will carry on driving a bit faster, now you have developed a taste for it ??!!

  3. Jean, maybe the "while supplies last" rule is just understood here in France. I guess I should look into the whole question.

    Starman, I didn't see any point in arguing with the employees. I'm sure they can't control the situation.

  4. Doesn't white turkeys mean turkeys with white feathers? Some people prefer them because they pluck cleaner. It may also imply factory farmed turkey, as you say. Intensively farmed turkeys do seem to always be white, whereas anyone going to the trouble of extensively raising turkeys is likely to choose an old black feathered variety.

  5. Watch out: soon you'll be addicted to speed! ;) Martine

  6. You were right -- and you could complain to the bureau des fraudes. It is publicité mensongère and if you complain loudly with other customers around, you should get your way.

    1. Ellen, hi, I guess I am reluctant to complain too loudly. See tomorrow's post...

  7. Jean, I'll probably go back to just putt-putting around in the car once it passes inspection. But in two years, for the month before the next inspection is scheduled, you find me out zooming around again.

  8. Ken, I was going to say much what Jean said about similar in the UK...
    but something I have noticed in the recent 'pub' in the mailbox [especially from Intermarche, Simply and LeClerc] is that they now state how many items at that price... viz: 1840 pieces... for all the stores in France!!
    It is like things from LIDL or ALDI... if it is something special you see people queueing at 8:15am on the morning of the offer... we thought we'd missed the Scottish Salmon, 600g for 10€s, offer this year because we were delayed getting to Loches on the day... but fortune smiled on us... they'd only just started unpacking the delivery... normally all the restaurants get there first!

  9. Hello Susan, what I have understood, talking about chickens, is that a poulet blanc is not the same thing as a poulet fermier. The same would apply to turkeys too, I assume. I am not an authority, however.

  10. So frustrating! It would drive me nuts, too. Glad to know the trip included fun driving and successful veggie shopping :)

  11. I'm French but would have resented not being told there were no more "dindes blanches" in a polite and amiable way... Even if the employee is of course not responsible, he should be kind to customers...

    It seems as if "les dindes blanches/white turkeys are essentially raised to be sold as cut-up parts (?)/pour la découpe


    "La dinde blanche (race exclusivement pour la découpe)"


    "La dinde bronzée d'Amérique, de couleur grise pèse de 5 à 7 kgs pour les femelles et de 9 à 11 kgs pour les mâles. Elle est très appréciée pour les repas de fin d'année.

    La dinde noire Bettina pèse environ 4 kgs.

    La dinde blanche est surtout utlisée en découpage par rapport à son poids : 10 à 12 kgs pour les femelles et 15 à 16kgs pour les mâles."

    I learnt thanks to the following article that "les foires aux dindes" have been existing since 1414 !!!



    1. Hi Mary, the dindes blanches that Grand Frais advertised weighed only three to four kilograms. I'm not sure what "dinde blanche" means, really.

  12. Bon sang, j'étais encore connectés sous l'identité du fiston, lol ! Il est repassé par chez moi hier soir avant de repartir à Paris en train ce matin...

    Well, here is the link with the "Foires aux dindes"...


    1. Mary, 1414? But Columbus didn't discover America, home of the turkey, until 1492. Bises...

  13. Des artichauts de Jérusalem. Ce nom vient sans aucun doute de la saveur des topinambour parce que le topinambour appartient à la famille du tournesol.

  14. Unfortunately, because I, too, have been 'burned' by such adverts, when I see an announcement that is unbelievably good, I'm there immediately to buy it. Early in the morning, too. But, just last week, I was not there and sure enough when I arrived, the clerk shrugged her shoulders, but then as I kept asking her about it she pointed to a sign on another cheese cabinet saying in effect, "no Wesleydale cheese came in, sorry."

  15. Olivier Bailleux,
    Vous avez raison de dire que le Topinambour est un hélianthus, comme le tournesol. Il est originaire d’Amérique du Nord. Ici, aux États-Unis, on le trouve un peu partout à l’état sauvage, comme le Datura, d’ailleurs.

    Son goût, en effet rappelle l’artichaut qui, lui, n’est pas un hélianthus. Jérusalem, dans ce contexte, est une déformation de l’italien girasol, autrement dit tournesol. Artichaut tournesol? CQFD.


    Vos photos sont absolument superbes.

  16. Shame on me, Ken ! Tu m'as eue/you have had me, lol ! But here is what they say about the Saint-Clément fair which took place there as early as 1414, even if animals other than turkeys of course were sold then...

    La foire ancestrale de Sablons est la plus grande foire de l’Isère après celle de Beaucroissant.

    Elle est très ancienne et date d’une ordonnance royale d’Henri III de 1583 qui instaurait quatre foires dans le Vivarais (les 23 novembre, 20 août, 24 juin et le lundi de carême).

    Celle de "la Saint Clément" se tenait à Serrières le 23 novembre, sauf, bien entendu, lorsque le 23 novembre tombait un dimanche, auquel cas elle était reportée au lendemain pour ne pas gêner la pratique religieuse.

    Ces foires ont certainement une origine encore plus ancienne : il a été trouvé dans des archives en date de 1414, une longue procédure rédigée à "l'instance du magnifique et puissant seigneur, Odon de Tournon, seigneur de Beauchastel et de Serrières", et adressée à sa "majesté royale Charles VI" pour obtenir le rétablissement du marche de Serrières qui avait été supprime antérieurement."

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