Now is the time to seriously start thinking about Christmas shopping. And because we’re nice like that, here’s a little help for all your foodie friends and family. Here’s a round-up of the essentials you’ll find in almost every French home with the kitchen at the heart of it: simple, functional tools for everyday and every budget. You’re welcome!
A lifelong ally: the sturdy Creuset casserole
Buy it once, keep it your whole life and pass it to the next generation, that’s pretty much how “cocottes” work on the other side of the Channel. The warranty even lasts a lifetime! Made in Northern France, the robust Le Creuset cast iron casserole is an absolute staple, welcoming slow-cooked stews gently bubbling away on the stove or roasts simmering in the oven for over a century.
For today’s urban living, the 22 cm (3.3L) version should do - it’s the most versatile size, from two to six servings. Now all you have to do is pick one out of the 13 colours.
£230, 22 cm cast iron round casserole
Always in your pocket: the foolproof Laguiole knife
Easily recognisable thanks to Napoleon’s imperial bee engraved on their handles, these knives from the Laguiole forge need no introduction: handcrafted since 1828 in the namesake village on the Aubrac plateau (Aveyron), they reflect French tradition at its best.
For the perfect present, look no further than their legendary pocket folding knife coming in many - the ideal tool to effortlessly slice saucisson and more on the go, looking gorgeous in olive wood finish.
€109-195 depending on size
Not just any grinder: the iconic Peugeot pepper mill
Yes, that’s right, Peugeot as in “French car manufacturer Peugeot”. Turns out that’s how it all started, making coffee grinders and then pepper mills in the 19th century. Considered as one of the best in class, the original Z design from 1874 is still sold nowadays, and Peugeot peppermills are classic at gastronomic tables around the globe.
Classic folks or contemporary design buffs? There’s one to suit every taste, from the colourful manual “Bistro” (£27.99) to the sleek “Elis Sense” stainless steel electric pepper mill (£89.90). For a fully delectable experience, don’t forget to carefully source the peppercorns to fill it with!
The sweetest touch: a traditional canelé mould
Now that’s the perfect stocking filler for every aspiring baker out there. Originating from Bordeaux in Southwestern France, canelés are delicious little pastries flavoured with rum and vanilla, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
To make these classic delicacies, nothing beats the long-established individual copper moulds, essential to that beautiful crust. And because it's the UK after all, these moulds will also work brilliantly when making jellies.
A corkscrew named after victory
There’s nothing more essential to a French kitchen than a good tire-bouchon to crack open a bottle of wine, but not all of them are created equal. Forget fancy, techy corkscrews, this classic winged model won’t disappoint, ever. The trick? Buy a good quality one, like this chic matt black version from French institution l’Atelier du Vin.
Once the screw has found its way into the cork, the wings start raising in a “Charles de Gaulle '' manner, a gesture the famous former French president was well-known for, with both arms high up. What it actually means is V-for-victory, so now is time to enjoy that well-deserved glass of wine. Santé!