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When I visited France earlier this summer, I had no intention of eating so many chips.

Before the trip, I imagined croissants, choux à la crème, jambon-beurre sandwiches, not to mention dishes I had not yet heard of and yet to discover. And boy, did I love all those goodies. But as I sat at Charles de Gaulle airport on my way back to the US, a bag of Lay’s Poulet Rôti caught my eye in a relay race! convenience store, and I couldn’t help but think, why not? What is another bag? That said, I happily purchased the roasted chicken flavored fries and munched away while waiting to board my flight back to New York.

Why does this particular snack in France (from an American brand, no less) have such a hold on me? It is a question that I asked myself in the queue at the cashier and that I still ask myself now. I suppose it’s partly nostalgia, partly fantasy. When I shop in a French supermarket, I pretend, if only for the moments between wandering the aisles and exiting the automatic doors, that my time there is not temporary. And that’s why every time I travel I always visit local supermarkets and even some regional chain stores.

Don’t worry. When I travel, I still visit the trendy restaurants that friends, social media and, of course, magazines tell me I need to try, but the local favorite grocery stores and chains really have a hold on my heart.

It all started on a family trip to Philadelphia in high school. I forced my parents to stop at a Wawa convenience store to try the coffee because I had heard about the chain from a Tumblr blogger. Coming from Southern California, I had fictionalized the idea of ​​such a large menu offering (coffees, hot hoagies, smoothies!) From a place where you could even get gas. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me that my hometown chain, In-N-Out Burger, could be a tourist destination for others.

The list goes on: Tim Horton’s was an absolute must on a trip to Montreal and Dutch Bros was a necessary pitstop on an Oregon road trip a few years ago. It almost doesn’t matter if the food is good, although that definitely helps, but the experience of ordering my morning coffee or getting snacks from a place where thousands of locals do every day is what ultimately makes me feel immersed in. a destination. Why should you take the time to visit a local facility while traveling? Let me count the ways.

You’ll discover delicious foods that might become your best souvenirs.

On my aforementioned trip to France, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon a supermarket in Paris one late afternoon, knowing it wouldn’t be dinner time until at least 9pm, looking for some snacks. On the same subject : Retired QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Joins Prime Video’s ‘TNF’ Show.

Poulet Rôti chips immediately caught my attention. I remembered buying them almost as a joke with my brother on a previous vacation, only to find they were really delicious. In fact, they do not have the flavor of chicken but rather a tasty mix of aromatic herbs and abundant salt.

This time, whenever we passed a Carrefour or Monoprix, we stopped for a quick stop to grab some chips, often a much-needed snack between meals, sightseeing, and vintage shopping. They became such a staple that on our last night in Paris, we grabbed the Poulet Rôti taste again, plus a bottle of wine, and sat along the Canal Saint-Martin, enjoying the unexcused French snack as much as the our canal view.

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You’ll learn about the local culture of a destination in an authentic way.

As we wandered through the aisles of the market that first day in Paris, I grabbed the fries without hesitation. However, I saw other (presumably Parisian) shoppers grabbing boxes of cookies, glass bottles of juice, chunks of cheese, and fresh produce, imagining what dishes they would make when they got home to their stylish Parisian apartments. This may interest you : Art as a healing and spiritual power | Art and entertainment | (In this supermarket daydream, they always return to stylish Parisian apartments.)

They were gathering supplies to make dinner, feed their kids, or make a dessert to take to a party, just like I do at home. But seeing, touching and smelling their local ingredients offers a glimpse into the life of the locals in a way you can’t experience just by walking the streets or visiting museums.

I asked some friends if they shared a similar fascination with visiting grocery stores when they travel and, surprisingly, I was greeted with a lot of agreement. A friend mentioned that she developed a fondness for Jaffa Cakes and Hob Nobs while living in London, and these snacks are deeply tied to her memories of her time there. Another even went so far as to say that growing up her mother took her to local grocery stores “literally wherever we traveled”.

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You’ll have a reason to return (and a mission when you get home).

Of course, it didn’t take me long to try and buy Lay’s Poulet Rôti chips in New York. I had no luck at first. On the same subject : Still Here: The Greatest Classic Video Games of All Time. I’ve seen Reddit threads and tweets of admiration for snacks and more online speeches than you’d expect a simple potato chip could garner. And while it is possible to order online from a third-party vendor, you’d probably bet your sanity (and food safety) to do so.

That said, some brands like SnackCrate offer subscription boxes for international snacks, making foreign treats more accessible, both for travelers wanting to relive their favorite travels and for those looking for a taste of home if they’ve moved far away. But perhaps the elusiveness of these snacks discovered during the journey is part of their appeal: you have to enjoy them while you can, hoping that one day you will come back and enjoy their salty and vaguely chicken goodness again.

While a grocery store or convenience store might not be the first stop on your next trip, I’d suggest squeezing one of those Michelin-starred sightseeing tours, museums, and restaurants. You will get a glimpse of life in a different place, whether it is across the country or the world, and you will appreciate the delicacies and ingredients you could not find at home. You may even find your new favorite flavor of chips.

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