Monday, 30 January 2012
Much more popular in France than back in the UK, cordial (sirop to the French) has taken the place of high juice and squash in my everyday drinking habits. Originally this was more of a forced change as squash does simply does not seem to exist in the supermarket. To get my hands on some I would need to make a costly detour to the English shop in Saintes town centre, a guilty pleasure my purse cannot afford! However, as with many of the changes I have made since moving to France, what starts out as bedrudgement often leads to new discoveries and greedy pleasures, and cordial has definitely become one of these fetishes.
Existing in an impressive range of flavours from the traditional lemon, mint or strawberry, through to more bizarre flavours like bubblegum or basil, cordial in France is most commonly diluted in water and is actually more cost-effective than squash as a little goes a long way! Mixing with lemonade is also popular especially with kids; this is known as a 'diablo' and is a bit like ordering a lime or blackcurrent and soda in a pub. The French also add cordial to their beers, most commonly lemon and peach, and I was even introduced by a colleague to cordial diltued in milk: mint flavour is surprisingly tasty and very refreshing in summer.
Cordials can be used both hot and cold, which also means they can be using in the kitchen to experiment with unusual flavours or bring an intense burst of colour to a dish.
Try marinating prawns in banana cordial before pan-frying, adding a bit of acidity to red meat dishes with a raspberry cordial, or even bringing a bit of zing to tomato soup with a ginger cordial.
Greedy Note: Sugar-free cordial does exist, but I find the flavours less intense and oddly sweeter than the pure sugar alternative.
Moulin de Valdonne