Christmas gifts for the Francophile and Anglophile in your family
Every family has them; someone mildly obsessed with life on the other side of the pond. Whether they’re decorating their homes with all things Union Jack or serving up a different cheese every day of the year, the Anglophiles and Francophiles in your life will love you just a little bit more if they find an addition for their collection wrapped and tucked under the tree this year.
I have a healthy dose of the Francophile in me, but in the interest of avoiding another Franco-British skirmish I’ve divided the appreciation equally between countries. There is certain to be something on the list that your –phile doesn’t already own.
For the Francophile
1. Fleur de sel from Guérande
Arguably one of the best salts in the world; it is collected in the salt marshes of Bretagne in Guérande. Used at the end of the cooking time or at the table to enhance flavours. A bonus if you add in the ‘mains à sel’ – the traditional bowls used for serving it in. Most well stocked grocery stores carry this salt in North America.
2. Personalized Breton bowls
Your Francophile can sip their steaming café au lait every morning from a personalized bowl while dreaming of far away places. The bowls are sturdy and dishwasher proof. Order online.
3. Crème de marron de l’Ardèche
A sweet spread made from chestnuts and delicious on warm baguette at breakfast. True story. You can find this in small delicatessens and specialty shops. Or if you have someone coming from France, place your order – that’s what we do.
4. Asterix le Gaulois
Everything I learnt about The Roman occupation of Gaul I learnt from Asterix. I kid…sort of. If you can buy the books in French the bonus of the witty play on words will have the reader giggling into their cup of cider.
5. Provencal tablecloth
A bright, cheerful tablecloth can conjure up images of Provence with the songs of the cicadas humming in the background as you enjoy a leisurely lunch. Patterns range from depictions of olives and lavender to whimsical, retro farm scenes.
6. La Rochere glassware
Any Francophile worth his or her salt will want to serve everything from water to wine in La Rochere glasses. They’re available online, but are often found in local gift and tableware shops. I found mine at Homesense and have seen them at our neighbourhood farm market too, so keep your eyes peeled.
7. David Lebovitz literary cook book
David Lebovitz is an ex-pat American living in Paris. He writes cookbooks and blogs about his experiences at http://www.davidlebovitz.com. His book The Sweet Life in Paris is quirky, delicious, and funny.
8. Clothes for the kiddos from Interdit de Me Gronder
This French clothing label for children from 3 months to 14 years is called Interdit de Me Gronder, which loosely translates to “You can’t give me heck mom and dad, neener neener.” I’d get it for the name alone.
9. Zut Alors tote
A favourite saying back in the day, “Zut alors,” is quintessentially French. This tote from Etsy is perfect for making the rounds at the bakery and cheese shops.
10. Le collier
I couldn’t decide between these two necklaces so I’ll let you choose. One is by a Canadian artisan using antique French wax seals, and the other is a fun Etsy find.
Technically we’re past the number limit for a Top Ten List, but whatever…Carambar are so yummy and reminiscent of childhood. Delish caramels with a goofy joke inside. A must.
For the Anglophile
1. Street sign cushion covers
To change things up from Union Jack throw pillows, these made to order cushion covers (or bespoke since we’re all British now) can be ordered with a favourite address on them.
2. Dr. Who iPhone case
Confession – I can’t keep up with Dr. Who; however, I have it on very good authority that this is a personal failing and that people in the know love the show. Here’s the perfect thing for Dr. Who aficionados…a blue police call box case for their phone.
3. The Beatles nesting dolls
I know…you’re thinking nesting dolls are Russian, right? But a bit of whimsy in home decor keeps things from getting too stuffy and it’s The Beatles, so that always goes.
4. Downton Abbey cookbook
This fun cookbook is inspired by the kitchen mastery of Beryl Patmore, Downton’s cook. Though not endorsed by the show it serves up recipes such as Mr. Bates’ Chicken and Mushroom Pie and Ethel’s Crepes Suzette. Footmen not included with the book.
5. Welsh knotwork ring
This artisan has designed Welsh-inspired jewelry for years and is one of the last people working with Welsh gold. The shop is in the pretty town of Tregaron, Wales, but their wares can be ordered online. Be warned – there are many beautiful pieces on this site.
Wellies bring to mind afternoons spent tramping over damp hills and through farmer’s fields. Quality rain boots are keepers and depending on where you live, can be worn year round. Find them anywhere from big retailers to neighbourhood tack shops.
7. Scottish shortbread & a film
In the absence of a trip to walk over hills and heather, how about a box of melt-in-your-mouth shortbread and a classic Scottish movie to instill the feeling of being there? Walkers Shortbread is available in most stores and Local Hero, though from the 1980s, is still a nice tale.
8. Shaun the Sheep mug
Do you know Shaun the Sheep? Doesn’t matter, your Anglophile does. Although developed for kids, the tongue in cheek, madcap escapades have won over parents too. Let them enjoy High Tea with a Shaun mug.
9. Britain’s Royal Families
Who married whom; who killed whom; who slept with whom and had illegitimate children – it’s all in here. Pour a large glass of stout because there’s a lot to sift through.
10. Basket of goodies for tea time
If you really love your Anglophile, a basket filled with home made scones, raspberry jam, and Devonshire cream is just the ticket. The cream is sold everywhere and Nigella Lawson – an English cooking goddess – has a fab and simple recipe for scones here http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/basic-scones-3095.
You can rest easy knowing these items will never lose favour with your loved one. After all, they evoke la belle France and the brilliant Brits chap. If it’s one thing both can agree on, it’s that all things French and British are always in fashion.
When Katja Wulfers isn’t spending all hours of the night scouring Etsy, she’s the mother of two entertaining kids and works as a fire breather in her own circus show. She’s trying to moonlight as a writer and ends up rambling about things at Jack Straw Lane.