The story began when Sandra Ira, from the city of Nîmes, had a furious craving for Bonne Maman peach jam.
Bonne Maman is a very iconic French brand of old fashioned desserts and sweets. She went to her local supermarket but couldn't find this flavour, just the traditional ones.
She shared her concern with the store manager but he didn’t take her request seriously, saying the store was only offering the most popular jams... and you know how French people are particular about their food.
She decided that day to import it and that’s how the company began. Now her online sales have grown significantly, offering 200 iconic French products at stores all over Australia.
Biscuits are part of our childhood and bring sweet memories. Some have been going along in lunch boxes with generations of petits écoliers (little school students).
They are still popular French snacks at school. That was the reason why I thought it would be a good to introduce these to my Year 8 students as generations of Australians likewise grew up with Anzac biscuits or Tim Tams.
And because students love stories and sagas, I chose to tell them the story of Lefèvre Utile, better known worldwide by the initials LU, a brand of French biscuits, emblematic of the city of Nantes, in Brittany. Jean-Romain Lefèvre founded LU in in 1846.
This brand has also a museum dedicated to the story of LU, located in the château de Goulaine.
They have been making traditional biscuits for 170 years, such as the flagship “Petit beurre”, a golden butter biscuit known by its classic oven-browned scalloped edge.
Among the tastings, students had a go at Pim's (similar to British Jaffa Cakes) cakes originally made from genoise filled with marmalade or orange jam, topped with chocolate on one side. Students liked the spongy texture.
They also discovered the iconic BN biscuit (BN stands for Biscuiterie nantaise) consisting of a filling, such as chocolate, sandwiched between two biscuits.
It has a smiley face on it and that was the favourite among my students. They also appreciated Pepito, les barquettes à la fraise (strawberry sponge biscuits) and, FigoLU (crunchy bars filled with figs) and les tartelettes (little tarts) Bonne Maman.
The biscuit tasting provided plenty of French culture to work on as well as learning how to express likes and dislikes, talking about preferences and also trying to ask questions in French.
The students learned that Ira came nine years ago in Australia just to see the kangaroos, it was supposed to be a holiday.
Nine years and two kids later, she is still enjoying Melbourne life. They also asked her what was her favourite part of her job. “Making people happy”, she said.
And why not use French LU commercials to familiarise your students with French advertising? So many fun options to choose when it comes to sweet things.