Sisterhood of the Traveling Ritz Box: Journey from France

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Christmas came a little early when, out of the blue, I received a parcel from France! Not from a mysterious elf, but my friend Vivian, who is studying in Paris at the moment (if you don't remember the story, you can catch up here). It took several minutes to rip, then methodically cut open the package, but inside was a mini-buffet of French snacks. And a cute paper napkin doll.

I have a very democratic way of eating, one that I established when I was still a child: I line all inventory up, grouping them with their twins (or triplets), and then I eat according to which group has the most members, until I level the playing field, then it's a free-for-all, though I tend to save what I believe will be the best ... for last.

That meant I started with Le Petit Écolier biscuit, a tea biscuit-shaped shortbread cookie covered in milk chocolate. I think I've had this before, but it's been a very long while since I've had authentic European food, so the first bite was both unexpected and heavenly. I was yet again reminded that European (and even UK) chocolate is far, far superior to American chocolate. The chocolate seemed to be multidimensional in flavor, but I could have just been happily hallucinating. It tasted fruity and nutty and chocolaty, all at once. Very, very good.

Next up was Haribo's Dragibus Pocket, little chewy jelly beans. I was immensely intrigued by this product. They come in sherbet colors (lime green, cantaloupe, peachy pink, yellow) and a licorice black. They are also, surprisingly chewy. Not much like jelly beans in texture; they really stuck to the teeth. But they had a nice ever-so-slightly tart coating, and the most intriguing flavors! I'm typically fairly good at placing flavors, but these were indescribable. The light peachy pink and cantaloupe-colored ones were closest to a typical jelly bean flavor, coming in at something that tasted maybe like a fruity cotton candy. The black was, surprisingly, not licorice at all, but something more berry-like. The lime green and yellow-colored ones were not fruity at all, but more floral. I felt like I was eating perfumed jelly beans, or maybe some sort of sugared shampoo or body wash ... but in a good way. I really enjoyed these, although I wish they were slightly less tacky and difficult to chew. Wonderfully unexpected flavors.

Belin Croustilles in Emmental. Oh ... my ... goodness. Vivian wrote in her postcard that this product is basically France's answer to Cheetos, but this is in a different league entirely. Well, I suppose that's to be expected, but still, this is like Pirate's Booty, amped up. The cheese flavor, first of all, is no processed bright orange cheddar powder. This one is full-on, absolutely packed with Emmental flavor. And it's a natural cheese color. I really don't have anything else to say about this, except that it's so, so good.

So cheesy ...

Next up were the Lila Stars Snax by Milka, hazelnuts wrapped in Rice Krispies-like kernels, then dipped in milk chocolate. These were really tasty, and smooth smooth smooth as European chocolate is expected to be. These were delightfully crunchy in a sort of light and effervescent way that I would not expect a chocolate-Rice Krispies combo to produce. I really enjoyed these, though I think the chocolate to hazelnut ratio could've been upped a bit! I think my first experience with Milka was in Amsterdam, when my friend and I hit up the supermarket (most probably my favorite place in any foreign country) to check out the goods. I remember buying the strangest chocolate bar I could find, which ended up being some sort of apricot jam-filled milk chocolate bar. England had a limited variety of Milka goods in its grocery stores, and Target carries a couple types of bars now. (How international we've gotten!)

I haven't tried the Lindt Noir Intense (70% cacao) chocolate bar yet, but I'll likely be mixing a little bit of it into some double chocolate cookies I'm planning to make soon, so I don't want to open it just yet. So ... that leaves us with one more French treat, the one I was most excited about when I first opened the box: the Haribo Orangina Pik. These are Orangina bottle-shaped gummies, covered in sweet-sour crystals. There are two colors and, accordingly, two flavors: regular (orange) and blood orange, I think. I actually preferred the regular one, which was tangy-er and zestier, and very much had the bite of a lemon rind. The blood orange one was less zesty and had a smoother, more calm flavor ... and may have been sweeter. These were so refreshing and such a departure from your run-of-the-mill gummy candy. They had a pretty tough chew, which is the one thing I would have changed about them. I know Haribo is known to be chewy and I guess gives you your money's worth, but at times I almost felt like my teeth were losing the fight. But the flavor payoff is definitely, definitely worth that fight.

It was so much fun eating my way through a little taste of France, and being reminded of what the United States is missing out on. Thanks, Vivian! ;) The U.S. could definitely use the Orangina gummies and Croustilles in a variety of cheesy flavors (and "nacho cheese" doesn't count as a cheese flavor). And as of a few months ago, Vivian officially been friends for 10 years ... seems like a simultaneously long and short ten years, but ten years it is.

You Might Also Like


  1. I'm glad you liked the Dragibus gummies! I probably said this to you already, but I'm not a big fan of them at all. But they do seem to be the most popular Haribo product here. I'm also especially glad you enjoyed the Belin croustilles and the Orangina gummies ;)

    Damn, it really has been 10 years. I feel so old ! But I'm more in awe of how quickly the time passed. I'm just glad we're still friends :)

  2. How sweet. I hope you guys stay friends for much longer.



What I'm Reading