If an ad could be cute while being punny even when advertising ointment for hemorrhoids, this is it.
Filed under: Basse-Normandie,cultural differences,daily life,food and drinks,health,news,restaurants,tips,travel and places,travel tip
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
Filed under: advertising & marketing,conspiracy theories,cultural differences,daily life,food and drinks,health,products,shopping,signs,weird
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%.
From Associated Press:
“The store, Etam, pulled the product off its shelves, cut commercial ties with the supplier and forbade its other suppliers from using the sachets.
They contain dimethylfumarate, meant to fight humidity and mold. But the substance was blamed in a similar case in France, when chairs were withdrawn from sale after buyers complained of rashes.
A statement by Etam said a client developed an allergy after wearing her new boots. A dermatologist she visited blamed the rash on dimethylfumarate. Etam says 1,000 people bought the footwear.
A link between the allergy and the sachets has not been formally established, the statement said. An independent laboratory is conducting tests, with results due later this month, according to the statement.
Etam spokeswoman Florence Troy said one style of boots and a range of high-heeled shoes were withdrawn from 250 stores.
French furniture store Conforama warned clients in July that some of the Chinese-made recliners it sold presented an allergy risk “in rare cases.” It linked the risk to dimethylfumarate and withdrew the chairs.
Conforama also severed ties with the supplier and ordered other suppliers not to use the anti-fungal chemical.
An array of made-in-China products are presenting health risks, the most serious being baby formula made from milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine which has entered the food chain and caused deaths and illnesses.
Contaminated seafood, toothpaste, candy and a pet food ingredient, also tainted with melamine, have all raised health concerns.”
Filed under: articles,business / economy,cultural differences,daily life,environment,food and drinks,french laws,health,products,tips,weird
Over several years now, a strange thing has happened in France: the coffee started to suck. Yes, there were cafes that served terrible coffee forever, but for the most part in the early 2000s, it was still flavorful, very drinkable sludge espresso. It was French coffee, the coffee that I expected to have each time I came to France. I liked it, and the quality was very consistent from cafe to cafe. So when we moved to France six years ago, I was happy to be able to live the cafe experience, meeting people, hanging out, watching passers-by and sipping tasty coffee as often as I pleased. I used to always be surprised that I wouldn’t get the shakes if I had a double shot. However, soon afterward, I began not really enjoying my cuppa because of a declining quality, and in some cases, I developed a strange rash from drinking some brands of coffee, not to mention, getting the shakes (which I get when I drink American coffee). Slowly and surely, I reduced my consumption of coffee, and today, I don’t drink any coffee, whatsoever.
I miss it but I can’t seem to find anything I like. Apparently, I am not alone.
More and more people have stopped going to cafes, which has forced many cafes to close. In fact, since the beginning of this year, 610 cafes in France have closed their doors to the public forever. They just couldn’t make it. Many of these cafes had been in business for many generations.
Why did this happen? Expert have found many reasons that have played a contributing role, but for me, ultimately two were responsible, and it’s specifically these reasons that acted as the final coups de grace:
1.) The Case of the Free Coffee Machines – In the early 2000s, thousands of cafes were offered “free machines” for their establishments. “Free” is not entirely accurate and this “free” had heavy strings attached. In exchange for the free machines, the cafes were obliged to use coffee supplied by the company that offered the free machines. Guess what? That coffee is CRAP, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which company offered the free machines. (see appropriately numbered, number 2 below)
2.) Good coffee companies were bought by evil corporations – There is no doubt in my mind that corporate mergers brought quality down in coffee; it happened right before my very eyes and taste buds.
There are other factors why cafes have shut down.
3.) People stopped going to cafes. Why? The coffee sucked! Also #4 below.
4.) Weak Purchasing Power – Crazy inflation occurred when France turned to the euro. Prices went up but salaries did not. That said, even with less money to dedicate to little luxuries, I feel that people would still frequent cafes if the coffee was good.
5.) The popularity of home coffee makers using capsules – I hate these with a passion, and I hate that they have become so popular. I don’t care what they taste like because I find them to be very unfriendly to the environment. So wasteful. Why oh WHY did George Cluny agree to do those “What Else” spots? Doesn’t he CARE? Having said that, I think people in general were looking for alternatives to find more tasty coffees since they couldn’t find them at the cafes.
6.) The Smoking Ban – Since smoking is no longer allowed in cafes, that has hurt businesses in a big way.