Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009: Little Differences between the U.S. and France

For no particular reason, I have been thinking lately about all the little, random things that make France different (at least I think so) from the United States. So here goes:

In the United States, one might think that a big truck with 20 wheel drive (slight exaggeration) is required to haul a camper. I mean for goodness sakes, we bought a camper that specifically marketed itself to be haul-able by a normal size sedan so we wouldn't need to trade our car in for a bigger gas guzzler. But in the end we STILL traded our car in for a bigger gas guzzler, because the sedan just didn't tow the camper all that great or very efficiently. But here in France, you actually see sedan's towing big-time campers, trailers, huge stuff that would probably get you pulled over in the United States. It's totally crazy when you see these tiny little cars hauling a camper that sleeps a family of 8 on the highway here in France. Not only that, but the actual hitch itself on the cars here in France are a little do I say it...straight up? I can't help but giggle like a 5th grader who has just learned about the male human anatomy in health class when I see one.

(pictured above: I think you know)

Something else that always takes me by surprise here in France is the radio. They seem to play a lot of American music. It has been great because the whole family can get into the car and hear familiar language - both songs we know or new songs we are hearing for the first time. But there is a problem. There is no censoring of American music on the radio - at least not here in Normandy, France on the stations we listen to in our car. Back in the United States, as we listened to Sirius Satellite Radio or even the regular FM radio, we didn't have to worry about the "F" word or "B" word creeping up and tainting our daughters ears - only to be asked, "Mommy, what is a "Bitc$"?" But here in France, by golly, you can be singing along and before you know it the "F" bomb has been dropped three times and another one is fast approaching. I don't know what it is, but they simply don't censor the music. Maybe they don't know what the cuss words are? Here is a link to a song that they play on the radio all the time here that my children LOVE. They think (after I told them so) that the girl is saying, "Thank you, thank you very very mu-uu-uuuch." But in reality she is saying something quite the contrary.

Lunch is also quite different here in France. If you go to a real restaurant (i.e. no McDonalds,
Subway, or Panda Express) you are pretty certain to get a really fresh meal for a very
good price. For example, today I had Steamed Marlin with Creamy Pepper Sauce and Potatoes
served with a side of fresh baked bread. Now, I don't normally order such a meal for lunch -
this is way too much food and way to rich for noon. But I have learned my lesson. If you order
the Plat du Jour (basically, the lunch special) being advertised, you can get it for about 7-8 Euros
and you can have it served to you in less than 3 minutes. No kidding! I have tried ordering
off the menu (a simple salad, even) and it always takes much longer to receive and usually
ends up costing more. They make the Plat du Jour ahead of time and it is ready to go and
fresh and quickly served. I don't recall ever having quick service for anything ordered in the
United States during the lunch rush - heck, an appetizer of tortilla chips could take 20 minutes!
So I guess my point is, even though you wouldn't normally eat a filet in red wine reduction
or chicken prepared norman style for lunch back in the United States, just go for it here in
France. The food will for sure be prepared with loving hands and served fresh, tasty
and quick.

(pictured above: myself, enjoying a tasty Plat du Jour)

Wow, they sure do have fresh fruits and vegetables here in France. You have seen my pictures
and stories about going to the markets and basically being in French Fresh Heaven. But I have
to tell you. I have found something that the French don't seem to be so good at growing. Now
growing up with grandparents who had a farm that grew tons of corn, we often ate corn for
meals. And I don't mean as a side dish. I mean, as the ONLY dish. Seriously, I remember when
Andrew and I were just dating and I brought him to my parents house for Sunday dinner. There
must have been some other items on the table (probably radishes and canned pineapple, but
the main dish was SWEET CORN. No joke, each family member would eat 3 ears of corn at
dinner. Andrew was absolutely floored at this corn-consumption conundrum. Who eats 3 ears
of corn in one sitting? At his house, it was one ear and no more. I don't know if my family was
different than most. It was just as simple as corn was in season - corn was eaten. So we did!
Needless to say, I was very excited to buy some sweet cord at the market here in France.
I waited and waited and waited. None in May. None in June. None in July. None in
August. None in September. Ah, finally! I found some in October at the market! "Give me 10
of those", I said (or, "Dix, s'il' vous plait). Boy, was I excited to eat some corn. And I really
talked it up to the girls and Andrew when I got home from the market. All day, I bragged about
the tasty corn we were about to enjoy at dinner. Visions of melting butter dripping from salted
ears of corn haunted us all day long. And then dinner time came. And I peeled the corn. And
I was amazed by the total lack of corn on the ear of corn. And on the next. And the next. And
then finally, the very last ear of corn was hosting an alien life form. Cornless corn is one thing,
but mysterious life-form corn is another. I decided, at this point, that France had not yet
perfected the art of growing corn for their people's consumption. And we were all very bummed
at our corn-less dinner.

(pictured above: Cornless corn from France)

(pictured above: Corn housing an alien)

Well, that is all for now. But as I think of or see some other interesting, yet pointless, items that differ between the United States and France I will bring them to your attention.

Have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. OMG! I should have told you about the awful corn in France....definately not the same as here, and don't expect the turkey to be the same for your thanksgiving dinner!!