In Life, Travel

Ingredients do not universally taste the same worldwide, sometimes a tomato is not just a tomato

Best mangoes I’ve ever eaten? In Singapore, when they came from India during mango season (OMG)

I know they don’t look like much but these are the best mangoes in the world. No, they are not the atualfo mangoes that you see here in Canada (but they do look similar). I have never seen them for sale anywhere in North America. They are paler (much paler) than ataulfos with a more pronounced tip.

Best cherries? In Portugal, or Hong Kong, when they came in from China during cherry season.

Best donut peaches? In Spain when it was peach season.

Photograph_Travel-Spain-Madrid-Peaches-Donut-Fruit-Vegetable-Food

BEST. PEACHES. EVER.

Best oranges? So far for me, it’s been Florida although I hear Morocco has amazing oranges, but I’ve never been there.

Best tomatoes? In a can from Italy, because the product is far superior than even fresh tomatoes here.

What’s the point I’m trying to make with the above recounts of the best fruits and vegetables?

WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM AND HOW IT IS GROWN AND KEPT, MATTERS.

I’m probably going to get pelted with rotten tomatoes (figuratively speaking) for this, but brie from Canada (namely Quebec), does not taste like briefrom France.


I’ve had both, on the same platter at once, and the one from France has so much more flavour, you just can’t compare the two. The one from Canada just tastes like fat. It’s still edible, but it isn’t the same.

Same with wines. Champagne. Fruits. Vegetables.

IT ISN’T THE SAME EVERYWHERE, SO STOP SAYING THAT IT IS.

Sure, they say they use the same techniques, it’s cheaper, and the same blabedda-bla-blas when making the brie, but here’s my problem with trying to sell me cheese:

  1. Canada doesn’t have the climate or the environment, let alone geographic placement
  2. Canada doesn’t have caves at the right sea level
  3. The milk used to make the cheese here, is not the same milk used in France
  4. Canada doesn’t have the right knowledge on how to properly store and keep cheese

Before you chuck that rotten tomato, I’ll go into detail about each point.

Note: All of the following doesn’t just apply to France versus Canada by the way, and not just in regards to cheese. It’s for everything you eat.

ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE

They’re geographically located in different parts of the world. A Canadian winter, is not a French winter.

The soil is not the same. The way the sun hits the country is not the same. The landscape is not the same.

All of this matters when it comes to growing ingredients.

Photograph_London-England-Europe-Tomatoes-Food-Vegetables-Market

It can be even the fact that growing oranges in Florida, makes them sweeter and juicier than growing oranges somewhere more up north and colder.

It simply doesn’t have the right environment for the fruits to grow at their best.

I don’t think I’ll ever taste a mango that is as good as the ones I had imported from India in Singapore or tomatoes as good as in places where they get a LOT of sun.

That’s just the simple fact. I’d love to have Indian mangoes in Canada, but our mangoes usually come from South America, which isn’t the same thing.

CAVES FOR CHEESE

Ever hear of those caves where they let the cheese ferment?

Yeah, French has them. Canada doesn’t.

How are you going to argue with this?

The cave is a naturally created spot by nature, where the temperature is perfect, the humidity is optimal, and there is no light sneaking into the cave to destroy the delicious bacteria growing on the cheese.

Sure, Canada could create some artificial caves to replicate all of the above, but until that happens, the brie here will never taste as good as in France.

THE MILK (AND INGREDIENTS) ARE NOT THE SAME

Canadian milk sold in grocery stores (even the homogenized, whole milk) tastes like cloudy water. I’m being kind in that assessment (even with the organic milk I buy, I do not taste the same thing).

If the ingredients are not the same (milk), the cheese will not be the same. Period.

It’s like saying that a can of slimy Chef Boyardee pasta tastes just as good as pasta that is cooked on-the-spot fresh (homemade or not, fresh or dried).

Cooking-Recipe-Food-Shrimp-Pasta

We also have different laws in Canada versus France in regards to milk production such as whether or not hormones are used, how much milk per cow is allowed, where the cows live, how they are allowed to roam around, and so on and so forth.

The best milk I’ve ever tasted usually comes from Europe, although not all of it is from Europe.

France, it’s Le President (but they don’t make milk any more I think).

Portugal, it’s Mimosa.

Switzerland and Germany aren’t too bad either.

England, is by the far the worst. Just as bad as Canadian milk in my opinion. The U.S. has slightly better milk but not enough to make me want to down a liter when I visit.

(When I visit Europe, and find a brand of milk I love, I actually open their 1L boxed milk like a juice carton, stick a straw in it, and finish the whole thing in a day.)

THE KNOWLEDGE ON PROPER PRESERVATION IS MISSING

The only place outside of France where I’ve seen cheese properly kept was in England at a Whole Foods.

They had a CHEESE ROOM.

Photograph_London-England-Whole-Foods-High-Kensington-Cheese-Locker

It’s a walk-in refrigerator, set to the perfect temperature to replicate the optimal conditions to preserve the delicate flavour of cheese.

Too cold, and the cheese loses its love.

Too hot, and it goes bad and moldy.

Too humid and it goes bad.

It’s like a temperamental Baby Bear who needs her porridge just right.

Interestingly enough, they also have cheese fridges but not an entire room JUST for cheese in Toronto as well at some Loblaws locations (College Street and Yonge, and the one on Queen Street and Bathurst has it as well).

wine-bottle-glasses-booze-alcohol-drink

The same goes for wine, which is also usually kept in a dark cave of sorts for optimal preservation.


Good wines, should be stored on their side, not upright so you can see their label.

Why do you think all the fancy wine caves have slots where the wine is on their side? There’s a reason for it!

The main reason is that you need to keep the cork wet, so that it stays fully expanded and doesn’t allow any oxygen or air to creep in, and to oxidize and ruin the wine.

We were in France, buying a very nice bottle of wine for 100 EUR for a celebration.

We opened it, BF tasted it, and proclaimed it to be a waste because it tasted like vinegar and wasn’t properly kept. The cork was dry, it had crumbled a bit into the wine, and the oxygen had seeped in, ruining the taste completely.

Tant pis.

We went back to return it (you can do that in France), and tell them it tasted like crap; they apologized and we picked another wine instead.

Portugal-Grapes-Hanging-Wine-Vine-Travel-Photograph-Fruit-Eat-Food

So when I see perfectly delicious cheese here in Canada either flown in from France or not, it’s a damn shame to see that they aren’t properly kept, because it just loses all of its flavour and delicate nature.

These are all things that we can pick out as easy mistakes for stores who don’t really know the product, or have taken even the slightest interest in figuring out what is the best way to keep and sell their goods.

France has a reputation for having the best food and ingredients in the world for their cuisine, and they absolutely deserve it. They fall short on many things, but food excellence and preparation is not one of them.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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16 Comments

  1. Kandice

    I am an American, but my formative years (age 11 to 17) were spent living in Saudi Arabia and Canada. There is definitely a difference. The dates in the Middle East are so much better than the dates here. And, I totally agree with you regarding the tropical fruits.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I’d love to eat the dates there. I don’t like them here at all but I can imagine them being amazing if they were fresh.

      Reply
  2. yettie

    Definitely. When I first moved here from Nigeria, all the fruits I ate were tasteless compared to the rich taste of fruits back home.

    And strangely enough, yes the coca cola was also really different. Coke here tastes watered down and it took almost 4 years for my taste buds to adjust to the taste of things in North America

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      That is interesting! Coke is watered down here? I always found it too sweet but I suppose it could be more concentrated elsewhere for local tastes.

      Reply
  3. NZ Muse

    Best tomatoes – Italy.

    Best strawberries – Germany.

    *drools*

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Don’t make me hungry. *sob*

      Reply
  4. Cassie

    Oh yes, I totally agree. Not only between countries, but between regions in the same country and from farm to farm as well. I grew up on small farm cow and goat’s milk, which is definitely different than the stuff you get at the store. We knew a lot of people growing up who turned up their noses at goats milk because they said it tasted putrid, and in their cases they weren’t wrong. They had let their goats get into alfalfa (they swore by it), which does horrific things to their milk. Even after they stop eating it, their milk never goes back to normal. We had a couple goats get into alfalfa, and it permanently skunked their milk. The ones who didn’t get into it had nice, consistently sweet milk. It’s amazing how variable the flavour is depending on the time of year and what they eat.

    Pork in Canada is awful. I’ve eaten pork all over Europe, in Hawaii and in Thailand. It’s AMAZING in all of those locations. I still eat it at home, but I’m often disappointed because I know what it can taste like. That being said, I prefer Canadian beef. I’ve tried European, American and Australian beef, and I can honestly say I like ours better. Some of that could be personal preference, but I believe if that’s all that was at play I should prefer Canadian pork as well, but I don’t. I like our local grass fed beef, much like I enjoy the local moose, elk and venison.

    It even crosses over into junk food as well. My dad loves Coca Cola, but because it’s bottled regionally it tastes different across the country. When my parents moved to northern BC my dad was actually mildly put off by the taste of it. He used to be so happy when he could get a case of Coca Cola from the lower mainland where the water is better.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I want to try this great goat milk…. I drink some of Baby Bun’s and I find it too goat-y. Is that still there, or are you saying alfafa sprouts make them bitter or something?

      Oh the pork is terrible here. I know it is healthier than beef but it is not good at all. 🙁 I’m so sad.

      It is amazing how the little things like water can change many things without us thinking about it.

      Reply
  5. ArianaAuburn

    Best tomatoes I have eaten were the ones I’ve grown in my back yard. I was shocked because I usually don’t like cherry tomatoes from the supermarket (they have a weird aftertaste). I am currently sprouting a larger variety of tomatoes in hopes that these will taste just as good.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I want to grow my own now. Are they hard to do on let’s say a condo balcony?

      Reply
  6. Chezloup

    I agree. As a Canadian living in Germany, I love how much better everything tastes here. In France, even the plastic wrapped sandwiches from Carrefour were delicious and not as unhealthy as everywhere else.

    Have you considered moving to Europe? What were your pros and cons? I am struggling with my decision to come here and will probably return in the near future. My career and pay took a major nose dive.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      You know, my partner and I talk about this all the time. I think it would be great to jet set to live (cheaply) in Europe for a year here and there for Baby Bun, but I don’t know if I’d be able to work. I don’t speak French perfectly like French people, and I’d need to work in English 100% and be on projects where that’s the case.

      My problem is if we move, I can’t feasibly work. We would have to go to a country where I could work without being a perfect Francophone.

      Maybe we’ll go to Germany.. 🙂

      I think my career would be intact only because I am a freelancer not an employee, but I do know that they do pay less in Europe than in Canada. My good friend was complaining the last time we met about her low pay and high cost of living in London.

      Reply
  7. Ramona

    Tomatoes clearly don’t taste the same. Here (Romania), when they’re in season, they are ugly, but absolutely delicious. The tomatoes grown in the villages are not the red pretty type, they’re big and imperfect, have a dark pink color, but are wonderful. Milk, coming from a ‘normal’ cow is also delicious. Even the milk we get in the supermarkets is tasty, but the best one is still the natural one you can get from someone who raises cows.

    We still have a lot of great fruits here and veggies, even if we do import a lot as well. And most of the time that’s utterly crap compared to what we can get from the peasant market.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I WANT UGLY TOMATOES

      Ours are so perfect and round….. and tasteless.

      Reply
  8. Sylvie

    So by extension, how have your travels influenced what you eat at home? Do you find yourself buying less produce than before, because it tastes bland, watery, or mealy? Do you gravitate more toward proteins and grains, because those are harder to botch up?

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Unfortunately yes. We don’t eat beef or pork here, it’s only chicken we eat and cheese. We eat eggs but we don’t LOVE the taste.

      We also eat certain fruits / veggies but only in season and have started cooking / canning things to preserve for wintertime when we want tomatoes but can’t get the good tasting ones.

      It is a real struggle. I feel like we’re urban farmers or something, and we “harvest” the best stuff from the supermarket to freeze for the winter. *sigh*

      Reply

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