Since the early 1970s, the Picard chain of food stores has been selling frozen gourmet meals all over France to people who can't or don't cook. The Picard empire has spread to over 400 stores and is even offering home delivery for people who not only are too busy to make dinner from scratch, but are also too busy to go to the store to buy a frozen meal.

Everything sold at Picard is frozen, including items like salads and delicate hors d'oeuvre which may not always freeze well. However, most of their meals are extremely well preserved, and are already arranged for final presentation. A typical Picard dinner requires little more than unwrapping before it is ready to go into the oven, which makes it an extremely appealing option for last-minute cooks. While Americans may get embarrassed at the idea of their dinner guests recognizing that the food was a ready-made frozen entree, the French are apparently not bothered by this risk, possibly because so many Picard meals are simply excellent.

Picard was owned by Carrefour before it was sold to a British company, Candover, in February, 2001. While many gourmet grocers in America are experimenting with selling gourmet frozen entrees, none yet have embraced the idea as absolutely as Picard.

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