Me: WHY can’t we find corn on the cob in France? I want to bbq some during the summers!
Him: We can find it, cherie. Didn’t you see them in all the fields around? I’ll just go pick some for you.
Me: What??! No, dude. They might be the GMO, pesticide ladened, industrial, poisonous varieties.
Him: Anyway, corn on the cob is pig food.
Me: Yet. French people eat canned corn.
Him: Yeah, so?
Me: Canned corn comes from CORN. ON. THE. COB.
Him: Corn on the cob is for pigs.
…and people wonder why I have to make fun of France. Back to corn. Did anyone notice that canned corn is labeled differently? I remember when canned corn always had instructions to rinse the corn before consuming it. I always did that, never realizing that it was probably because of the Bisphenol A (BPA) inside the can (or dirt). These cans still have BPA but the labels to rinse them first have disappeared! Weird, but I guess it alerts consumers that there’s something wrong with the corn. And, as most evil industrial minds reason, the solution is to remove consumer information so they don’t know there are risks. Yea, keep them in the dark! It’s like the law that was just passed in the U.S. where salmon does NOT need to be labeled that it’s genetically modified so people won’t know that the salmon they’re eating is not only bad for them, it’s also potentially dangerous to their health. écoeurant.
The following massacred French recipe was committed by the folks at that omnipresent family cafeteria/restaurant in France, Flunch, not me this time around.
We strolled by a Flunch yesterday and saw this huge sign for a new offering: The American Galette. While you’d think it would resemble a French sandwich américain, with its nonsensical bratwurst, grilled veggies and fries inside a baguette – surprisingly, La (chouette/nice) galette américaine sort of makes sense (in a Frenchy way) sporting basically a burger and its fixings inside a galette (a savory crepe usually made with buckwheat flour). Is it any good? I dunno but I think it needs fries inside!
We barely watched any of the Winter Olympics this year but did catch a few minutes of the biathlon (target shooting, cross country skiing) one night. The French athlete, 23 year-old Vincent Jay had apparently been in the lead for a long time and remained in first place as the race continued. Then, my sweetie says, “He’s going to crack and lose.” Me: “Wha? Don’t you want him to win?” “Yeah, but he’s going to lose. I know it and everyone in France watching right now are saying the same thing.” Me: “They said he just won the gold medal yesterday.” Him: “He got lucky. The French ALWAYS lose.” Me: “No they don’t.” Him: “Yes they do.” Me: “Where is your Olympic spirit!? I want him to win! You know, this collective Franco-negativity consciousness is going to MAKE him lose.” Him: “Wish all you want, It ain’t gonna happen.”
It turned out in the end Jay dropped to third right before the finish, but at least won the bronze medal. Him: “See, I told you. The French choke in the end.” Me: “!!!” Him: “You should’ve known.” Me: “Living here this long, I’ll eat pizza with a fork and knife, and I’ll drink morning coffee from a bowl, but expect failure without exception? NO.” Him: “What can I say? C’est plus fort que moi.”
This was another one of many clashes of cultures we experience: American Optimism (realistic or not) vs. The Undying French Pessimism (among other things). I call it “Ces impossibles Français,” which happens to be the name of a book recently released. I had to get it once I heard about it, although I haven’t gotten too much into it yet. Written by a French Canadian (Louis-Bernard Robitaille) who has been living in France for over 30 years now, it promises to be a light-hearted, warm and funny read, I think particularly for expats living with an impossible Français, or any expat living in France. Note: The book’s in French.
Now the stereotype has been confirmed – by a French poll that completed the character assassination by labelling the capital’s inhabitants “snobbish” and “self-regarding”.
“We find them to be hard working and cultivated,” the political magazine Marianne said of Parisians in an editorial published alongside the survey.
“But we consider them to be above all way too arrogant, aggressive, flirtatious, stressed, chauvinistic, snobbish, and self-regarding than other French people.
More than 70 per cent of those questioned thought Parisians were more snobbish than other French people, while more than 65 per cent thought them more aggressive and arrogant. However, many of the French questioned did not think any of these characteristics were particularly negative, with 68…
The last year or so in L.A. has proven that food trucks not only have evolved far past their “roach coach” days but also have inadvertently contributed to reducing people’s carbon footprints. These roaming restaurants that come to you, offer anything from gourmet Korean tacos, grass-fed beef hotdogs, cupcakes, Banh Mi, BBQ, sushi, crepes – you name it, you can probably find the meal on wheels you’ve been looking for. I like the idea of the Green Truck running on vegetable oil, using biodegradable containers and serving organic food. The only glitch is that the food is not local, which is understandable in L.A.
France has had food trucks for many years in the form of pizza trucks in the south and French fry trucks in the north, not to mention the awesome cheese trucks, butcher trucks, bakery trucks… oh! and roasted chicken trucks and more. Aside from the pizza and fries trucks, I haven’t seen much innovation in rolling fast food until recently, and this one is pretty cool.
Taking food trucks to a whole new level and incorporating today’s “green” needs, Christopher Mauduit and Fabrice Vanderschooten launched Hippo Facto last November near the city of Caen, which is located in north west France just about 10 miles inland from the English Channel. What’s not to love about it? Pulled by Percheron draft horses and dedicated to sustainable living and organic, local products, Hippo Facto couldn’t be more brilliant. Respecting the environment and serving fast organic and local fare that’s simple, healthful and creative, you can order fruit/vegetable juices, tartines, soups among other offerings. The containers are also compostable.
You’re right, I can’t imagine a food truck like this in a megalopolis such as Los Angeles. Picture the road rage of people behind the horse and buggy! Hippo Facto seems to work where they are. Of course, it takes them two hours to get to Place de la République in Caen. That’s all good considering there’s no fossil fuels involved, they don’t live in a speedy world and besides, some people commute longer than that in cars every single day. Now THAT’S crazy.
Every Wednesday & Friday
Place de la République – Caen France
On Weekends, they’re on the coast:
Bernières-sur-Mer, Lion-sur-Mer and Courseulles
Website: Hippo Facto
I think I’ve lived too long in France because when I saw this ad booklet from a supermarket chain, everything looked fine, nothing out of the ordinary. No French person would find anything unusual about it except my sweetie. Click on the image to enlarge it
He screams, “foire au gras! foire au gras!” Me looking at the ad, “et alors?” (So?) He continues, “for your blog!” Me: “It’s just an ad.” Him: “Yeeessss, but it’s GLORIFYING fat. Does that not seem blogworthy?” Me: “Fat is good, though.” Him: “They’d never celebrate and dedicate the virtues of FAT for FIVE pages in an American food ad, EVARRRR. Let alone sell tubs of fat, which they’re doing here.” Me: “Oh yeah.”
Order your Thanksgiving dinner and have it made for you, so you don’t have to try to fit a turkey in that tiny, French oven! If not that, perhaps you’re traveling or just don’t want to deal with it at home. How about going out for a real, Thanksgiving dinner à la américaine? The Bistrot Saint Martin is offering a feast for Turkey Day to eat in or take out, but reserve now as long as there are still openings. The in-restaurant dinner is 30€/person and includes:
Take out dinners include:
Bistrot Saint Martin
Telephone: 06 32 75 98 05/01 46 07 73 68
Website: The Bistrot Saint Martin
Here’s a silly fun ad from the U.S. explaining why things are better when they’re French. Soooo….. I haven’t seen French maids like that in the seven years I’ve lived in France – NOT saying they don’t exist but anyway…
Click on image to view video
The following clip might make some of you cringe, particularly those of you who bank in a large French city, and no matter what you do, can’t seem to contact your own banker. Ever. Since I’m not one of those people anymore (Our bank is in a small town where I have easy access to our banker. Yes, that IS possible.), this spot is sort of hilarious – but I’ve been there so know that I feel for you if this scenario is more of a reality in your life. The good news is that if you hang in there (the spot is sort of long), it offers a solution!!! NOTE: In French.
They keep saying that the French are the most productive people in the world year after year. A new study conducted by the UBS has reaffirmed this finding that although the French work the least amount of hours per year in the world, they still manage to be the most productive.
People work an average of 1,902 hours per year in the surveyed cities but they work much longer in Asian and Middle Eastern cities, averaging 2,119 and 2,063 hours per year respectively. Overall, the most hours are worked in Cairo (2,373 hours per year), followed by Seoul (2,312 hours). People in Lyon and Paris, by contrast, spend the least amount of time at work according to the global comparison: 1,582 and 1,594 hours per year respectively.
Maybe we should all work LESS and see what happens – but don’t blame me if you get fired from your job.
“So Alton Towers has banned embarrassingly titchy swimming trunks at its water park. But spare a thought for France, where the opposite is true: local authorities regularly force men to ditch their Bermudas and parade in skin-tight budgie-smugglers for the greater public good.
In French public pools, from the racing lanes of Paris to the open-air lidos and water parks of the south, anything bigger than Speedos is banned and you must hoist yourself into a posing pouch as a civic requirement. French changing rooms are littered with the broken dreams of prudish males abroad who thought they could sneak in a few lengths without showing their contours.
One Paris-based Irish journalist recalls how he attempted some early-morning back-stroke in a pair of standard Marks & Spencer navy swim shorts that came “about halfway down my thighs”. As he lowered himself into the shallow end, the pool attendant screamed that…”
An unexpected (to me) warning was issued on the radio today regarding tonight’s episode of Les Experts Miami. It has something to do with a very violent initial scene and France Inter suggested to parents that they not allow their kids to see it. I think if any kids heard the warning (which they probably didn’t because kids would not bother with this station), it would make them want to watch it even more – but I kind of appreciate the heads-up. Anyway, I’m not too much of a fan after watching it a little – Really horrible acting (actually the French dub actors are better!), same stories from all other police shows and just how many times can we watch that guy put on and take off his sunglasses? So bleh. Sorry, experts!
“Chef Emile Jung of famed French restaurant Au Crocodile will be cooking lunch today and tomorrow for The Obamas at the NATO summit meetings in Strasbourg, France. The Chef is the proud recipient of two Michelin stars for his restaurant, and today he will be prepping a “working lunch” for Barack and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which will be served in the Chateau des Rohan, an 18th century castle next to Strasbourg Cathedral. Tomorrow, Mr. Jung will prepare a buffet for all the NATO leaders during the summit meeting.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr. Jung said he was “pretty sure” that Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first ladies, will be present at today’s lunch. He also said he was not “allowed” to reveal details of the full menu, but did say that it would be French with a touch of Alsatian cooking:
There will be Alsatian pinot Gris but no choucroute [sauerkraut]; we will use seasonal produce. Right now it’s the time for asparagus and gigot d’agnelet [baby milk-fed lamb]. I can say no more.
At Au Crocodile, Mr. Jung’s specialty is foie gras, which may present a touchy “ethical” problem for FLOTUS and POTUS. Their hometown, Chicago, is one of the few cities in America to actually ban the sale of foie gras, after a years-long war among city officials. Mr. Jung does three fab versions of the dish: “froid”, “croûte en sel” and “aux pommels.” Menu details to come….”
Mr Sarkozy, a man often ridiculed in France for preferring fitness to literature, has frequently expressed his disdain for “La Princesse de Cleves” (The Princess of Cleves), a novel by Madame de La Fayette which was published in 1678 and is taught in most French classrooms.
Now, French readers have adopted the book as a symbol of dissent: as Mr Sarkozy’s popularity falls, sales of the book are rising. At the Paris book fair this week, publishers reported selling all available copies of the novel, while badges emblazoned with the slogan “I am reading La Princesse de Cleves” were a must-have item that sold out within hours.
Mr Sarkozy’s views on the novel are hardly new. As far back as 2006, before he became president, he made a comment that left no doubt that his school memories of it were not happy ones.
“A sadist or an idiot, up to you, included questions about ‘La Princesse de Cleves’ in an exam for people applying for public sector jobs,” he said, adding that it would be “a spectacle” to see low-level staff speak on the challenging work.
Since then, Mr Sarkozy has repeatedly criticised the tale of duty versus love at the 16th century court of Henri II, suggesting that knowledge of it was not useful.
Over time, his attacks have bolstered the book’s popularity, and even given it a new role as a symbol of dissent at a time when public anger over Sarkozy’s economic policies is high.
Public readings of the work have proliferated at universities like the Sorbonne in Paris, hit by protests over government reform plans, and at theatres.
The cultural weekly Telerama this week published results of a survey asking 100 French writers to list their 10 favourite books. “La Princesse de Cleves” came third in the overall rankings, after masterpieces by Marcel Proust and James Joyce.
Telerama commented that it was unlikely Madame de La Fayette would have done so well before Sarkozy’s jibes.
What’s more perfect than a pain aux raisins dunked into a steamy bowl of café au lait for breakfast in France? Ok, a lot but this is still tops in my book. What is a pain aux raisins? It’s classified more in the viennoiserie category rather than the patisserie category (so it’s not officially a pastry, but anyway…) – and is a rolled up brioche dough filled with custard and raisins, and baked crispy thin on the outside and soft and moist in the inside, finished with a glaze.
When in France, please do indulge in this classic French treat. I can easily eat two of them but I’m American so I can be a pig like that. It’s expected. Thankfully.
“Over the centuries, the French have cultivated the fine art of rebellion.
The list of targets encompasses tyrants, wars, colonialism and, above all, capitalism in its many manifestations. The latest enemy may seem unlikely: billboards.
The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren’t violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter’s flair, one of their slogans warns: “Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated.” The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.
“We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment,” said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. “It’s a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society.”
Despite the stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric, there were neckties and briefcases in the crowd at an evening rally here a while back. Part-time insurgents had come from work for the gathering in the Place Malesherbes, an elegant, tree-lined plaza graced by statues of the author Alexandre Dumas and his musketeer hero D’Artagnan, one of literature’s most irrepressible swashbucklers.
The 80-odd demonstrators, looking bohemian and stylish, listened to Baret set the ideological stage. The red-bearded schoolteacher and father of four explained that he doesn’t want to abolish advertising, just …” continue reading
“Perhaps nothing symbolized the American team’s efforts at the Bocuse d’Or better than its beef cheeks. At the world’s premier chef’s competition, which ended on Jan. 28 in Lyons, France, the Estonians transformed the cheeks — a required ingredient this year — into pot-au-feu, the Brazilians stuffed potatoes with them, and the Malaysians spiced them up into rendang. But the U.S. competitors, 28-year-old Timothy Hollingsworth and his assistant, Adina Guest, braised the meat until it was silky, set it on a tiny round of baby turnip, and topped it with a floret of broccolini. Smuggled through customs, the vegetables came straight from the garden of the famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa, California, where the two chefs work, and gave the presentation a delicious, locally grown flavor that could only be American. Sadly, in a context where extravagance and adherence to the rules of classical cooking take precedence, that might have been part of the problem.
From the heavy presence of seafood mousses to the cheesy compliments the MC paid the female judges, the Bocuse d’Or is nothing if not French. But because it is also a kind of culinary Olympics, with teams from 24 different countries competing over two days for a gold trophy that brings prestige and a $26,000 prize, the contest is imbued with national rivalries that extend from the fans in the bleachers to the flavors on the elaborate platters.
In fact, for the young chefs who compete in the contest — founded by revered French chef Paul Bocuse — navigating between the desire to demonstrate the glories of their national cuisine (to say nothing of their own creativity) and the wish to please a jury that tends to favor the classic French style is precisely the challenge. “If you’re playing soccer, you can’t use your hands,” says Antonio Saura, a Spanish filmmaker whose 2007 documentary El Pollo, el Pez, y el Cangrejo Real featured the competition. “The Bocuse is the same way: you have to play by their rules.”
Just a heads up to those interested: There will be a huge strike on Thursday, January 29. Everywhere. Nearly Everyone. La Grève générale ! A general strike. I hope there will be a huge turnout. What is is about? Pretty much everything: the financial crisis, weak purchasing power, human rights, etc. It is basically the reaction of La rage du peuple! Be prepared to face some huge perturbations especially if you need to get anywhere. The syndicates are saying this will be absolutely immense, bigger than ever before.
“Call it the law that just won’t die. Six months after France’s ruling Conservatives voted to gut the nation’s famous 35-hour work week, anecdotal evidence suggests most companies are sticking with it. French corporations and smaller firms furiously denounced the Socialist’s 1998 work-week reduction, and last year’s law change allows employers to force staff to work longer hours. But most bosses appear to have stuck with the shorter week, to avoid disputes with leisure-loving employees, and, it seems, as a useful tool in dealing with the growing economic downturn.
It’s a classic example of what the French call a pétard mouillé — or soggy firecracker that fails to explode. Few of the expected changes to the 35-hour week have materialized since France’s Conservative government passed a measure in July designed to make it easier for bosses to force their employees to work more. The move retained the 35-hour week as the nominal legal reference to undercut union protest, but then rendered it nonsensical by giving employers a free hand to set far longer work requirements. So far, however, bosses haven’t seen fit to…” continue reading
When we first moved to France in 2002, I was a big snacker, as many Americans are. It was part of life and when I began searching for French snacks in Nice, it was a huge disappointment. In fact, I remember blogging about how we were able to find potato chips but only “au parfum paprika,” and other so-called different parfums, which in fact all tasted exactly like BBQ potato chips. Not knocking those, but I wanted different things to munch on, some variety in textures and flavors, artificial flavors and ingredients notwithstanding.
In the U.S., we’re used to variety, so much of it, that’s it’s hard to decide what to snack on. Having choices is good. It’s great for someone who must have a full spectrum of junk food, whether it’s good for zee health or not. Wasn’t I relieved to find Roasted Chicken Flavored Chips in France? Anyway. Another thing I’m used to, as an American, is volume. Gimme some tortilla chips, not just individual lunch bag sizes, but JUMBO, heaps of mega amounts of genetically modified corn substances and oils pressed together in the shape of triangles. Throw some in the oven with cheese and add salsa, guac, black beans, jalapenos, sour cream, onions and more cheese and voila: yummy nachos. I can eat an entire pan in one go, whereas in France, this portion would be served to at least 10 people.
On the sweet side of junk, I also needed volume. An example: I was very much a M&Ms with peanuts kind of person. Gobs and gobs and gobs of them, I would munch all day if I could.
During the early years in France, the biggest bag of M&Ms with peanuts held approximately 15.3 M&Ms with peanuts. PFFFF! I was like, “don’t make me laugh, France. I could eat 100 bags of those itty bitty things. Gimme more!” Where was the humungous bag to fill my ginormous American belly???
Recently, we saw some XL bags of M&Ms in Auchan. My sweetie noticed them and squealed XL! So, yeah, it was pretty big for French standards considering these didn’t even exist a few years ago. I was mildly impressed, but this French EEKSelle was a mere 500 grams (about 1 pound). Frenchies would probably say, “Ouah. Enorme!”(wow. enormous!) while ogling the outrageousness of its packaging. I say, “PFFF! That’s a Barbie portion.”
Last month while shopping at Costco in L.A., we saw some bags of M&Ms. Each weighed 1587.6 grams (3 pounds and 8 ounces)! Now, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout! To be honest, even I was shocked at the magnitude of the bag. But! In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “I bet there’s one that’s EVEN bigger!” I’m so American. I’ve probably watched way too many episodes of The Simpsons. (You know what episode, I’m talking about.)
We bought several. Not for me because these days I don’t eat as much junk (remember junk food is BAD for you!), but rather, for a few of our French friends who we know are ravenous M&M addicts. They were all shocked and happy with their supersized gifts, exactly what we were hoping.
But just afterward, it all made me a little worried. I hoped those M&Ms last a while and aren’t eaten right away…
While I complained about the dinkiness in size of M&Ms bags and other snacks, and the lack of variety in France, I was, at the same time, relieved that I would not have the challenge of resisting eating these as well as other junk in grand quantities. Like many people, I can’t eat just 1, or 10 or even 15. The French were known to be bafflingly skinny for many reasons, but namely because of a lack of junk foods and specifically a lack of large quantities of junk foods, or food in general – with the exception of meat at BBQs.
Sadly, times are changing in France. We found these M&Ms in the store the other day. They were size “Maxi” (whose name would obviously NOT work in the U.S.). The maxi bag is 1000 grams, just over 2 pounds. France, you surprise me sometimes. So, it’s big but there’s still a difference of about 587.6 grams, about 1.2 pounds, to catch up with their American counterpart. But 2.2 pounds is fairly large for previous French standards.
I know! This is what I was hoping for, but not really.
M&Ms is just one example but there are thousands of products that can also apply here to the obvious conclusion: an increase in product sizes will lead to an increase in consumption, which leads to obesity. This happened in the U.S. which is partly why one third of Americans are obese.
Obesity is rising already in France but I’m afraid it will only increase exponentially with the supersizing of portions and with the imports of industrial foods. In 2002, when we first moved to France 9.4% of the French population was obese. Just four years later, that percentage increased to 12.4%. That’s nearly 8 million obese people in 2006. I don’t know more current stats on obesity in France but I’m fairly positive that it’s more than 12.4%.
Pretty cool news: Beginning April 4, visitors under 25 years old, as well as professors, will be admitted into the French National museums and monuments for free. This includes Paris’ Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. The normal admission fee for adults at the Louvre, for example, is around €9 ($12). [ via]
“In addition to their more admirable accomplishments, the French are generally considered the world champions of public protesting. Whether it’s transport workers striking against tightened pension regimes, fishermen outraged by high operating costs, students battling education reform or even lawyers picketing over court closures, it seems scarcely a week goes by without some section of France’s population taking to the streets. Given that, it should come as little surprise that one boisterous French group is planning a protest rally on the evening of Dec. 31 — and demanding that the world refuse to shed 2008 to make way for a troublesome-looking New Year.
“We’re saying no to the tyranny of time, no to the merciless onslaught of the calendar, and yes to staying put in 2008,” says a man who identifies himself as Marie-Gabriel, a militant member of the Fonacon group, which is organizing its fourth annual anti–New Year protest under the slogan “2009 Stays In Its Shell.” “Last year we warned a mocking world that 2008 would be horrible compared to 2007, and we were right. This time everyone acknowledges 2009 will be terrible, so now is the moment to unite together and refuse this new, rotten year!”
As seriously bleak as 2009 is expected to be, a call to mount barricades and bar the New Year’s arrival sounds like a gag even in strike-happy France. That’s because Fonacon’s protest is decidedly…”continue reading
Whenever I ask French people to name some French Christmas songs, the response is always, “Petit Papa Noël.”
“What else!???” I ask.
There MUST be more than that, right?! Until I find out and let you know about them, here’s a silly version of Petit Papa Noël with ukeleles performed by the French group, The Unlimited Ukelele Orchestra. Fun.