Sol, a food import company, introduces Mediterranean flavor to the Nepali palate.
The Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest in the world, especially if you can live under its warm sun, next to its big blue expanse. But, if you don’t have the time or finances for a holiday or life on the Med’ then don’t worry, its warm sun and diet has come to us…
Tucked inside the historical buildings of Baber Mahal is a food-import company named Sol, ready to tickle our fancies with culinary delights. They bring foods from Spain, France and Italy, three of the main Mediterranean countries, who have done the most in food development. Having taken Francoise Driard, creator of the Himalayan French Cheese Company, as their consultant, they have been importing some of the finest European foods available.
Chopped, sliced or in a tin
For the cheese addict who has had enough of scratching his veins in anguish, it is now possible to attain such delicate delights as the pungent, blue Roquefort cheese, the mature Beaufort. Don’t miss the Reblochan De Savoie made from raw milk in a small village in the French hills. And of course what cheese lover could pass on soft Brie and Camembert cheeses. For Italian pasta lovers, there is also that timeless accompaniment: Parmigiano Reggiano, a very mature cheese, classically topping pasta dishes.
For the connoisseur of fine meats, nothing compares to the Italian Parma ham, dry cured, served raw. Or, how about tasty Salamis made with various herbs and peppercorns. On the French side of the meat menu, there are two national delicacies available, one being escargots, or snails, yes snails, the epitome of French-peoples strange tastes, and, the even stranger, foie gras, a pate made from the livers of geese or ducks. What would accompany these treats better than some mustard, especially that green, fiery, wasabi-esque: Dijon sauce, with the power to make your hair sweat!
It wouldn’t be a Mediterranean food shop without some frutti de mare—fruits of the sea. Sadly, we are far too far away from the ocean to facilitate fresh fish, but still Sol has a good choice of tinned delights, such as: Moroccan sardines, spicy mackerel, smoked oysters and more. Francoise tells of a novel plan, come pre-Christmas time, they will take orders from those interested and bring in a large amount of fresh oysters, for enjoying during the holiday season.
Oh, and don’t forget to check-out the ubiquitous food of the Mediterranean, the less than humble olive, in both black and green.
Starting From Scratch
Although not overly stocked yet, the shop is showing its potential, as it builds up its shelves, with items like fettuccini pasta, French chocolate, and aperitifs like Grappa, the fiery drink of the Italians. It is also possible to pick up some fine bottles of Mexican Tequila, Brazilian Rums and some life-changing Mescal’s.
The sourcing of some of these food items is astounding. Take the Reblochan De Savoie, a very small production that is made using the highest calibre of milk. The fact that it exists here is, well, mind-boggling. Even the Dijon mustard, is the authentic one, from the Dijon region, in France.
I grew up on the wrong and cold side of Europe, and, have always had an affinity for the Mediterranean way of life and its foods, with its warm tones and inviting tastes. I always kept my eyes peeled when shopping back in Europe, but many of the foods are available now, in Kathmandu, at a quality not found elsewhere. It seems that as a consultant, Francoise Driard is earning his paycheque.
Dissecting The Damage
“There is no sincerer love, than the love of food”—George Bernard Shaw
Counting the cost however is not an easy thing. These items are not exactly cheap, and most of us will not be doing our weekly shopping at this level, yet, considering the journey and sourcing involved, it is quiet reasonably priced.
I found the whole experience from purchasing to devouring the goods, one that “brought me home”, for a short while, filling my senses with tastes that I had long forgotten existed. The only thing I was missing was a dip in the embracing warm waters of the Mediterranean, under its warm, inviting Sol.
Pat Kauba is a freelance writer and photographer with an addiction to fine foods, which is now being treated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org