Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The French vs the English..a study part one

I have had the priviledge of having my friend Marie from France stay with us for a few weeks. Her sojourn with us has highlighted what I believe are fundamental differences between the French and the English. They are as follows:

Food: For the English, food is a necessary evil. We hurry our meals and are content to grab a bite at Subways. This is demonstrated when I go cycling with an English group. With few exceptions, they seem to be content with fast food or food of marginal quality and then hurry the meal. Not so for my French cyclists. For them, I swear the meal is as important if not more important than the ride itself. There is no such thing as a hurried meal and food is savoured and enjoyed.

Now the French have developed different food groups and they are as follows:

1) Cheese. No day is complete without a healthy serving of good French cheese...on bread or on a cracker or a baguette...a Frenchman would rather lose an arm than not have cheese in their pantry. Cheese is an essential food group.

2) Bread. In the same way as cheese, bread is essential. Breakfast is a thick slice or two of bread, lots of butter and cheese.

3) Jam. This was a surprise to me. My friend, whom I will take as typical for my purposes loves jam and butter. While we anglophones may have a little jam....my French friend eats it by the jar full. So jam is a third food group.

4) Wine...French of course, but I did introduce Marie to Ripasso wines.

5) Coffee: Good, dark, strong espresso coffee. None of this watery coloured water that some people call 'coffee'. The French refer to this as sock juice!

Within these five food groups...the French can survive and indeed thrive. There is no need for fruits because that is handled by the jam. Vegetables are optional...and wine and coffee round out the rest.

Exercise

The French don't believe in daily exercise. They are content to read the paper or get involved in an animated discussion. For the French, discussion is an animated activity designed to raise the blood pressure and followed by a glass of wine. I believe that the idea of exercise and working out is very foreign to the French. While the anglophones will purchase treadmills I have yet to see a Frenchman or woman on a treadmill in the gym.

Colours

France is a country of soft greens and lovely pastoral vistas. The French however, do not reflect these colours in their dress. They wear black, grey, grey again, more grey and white. I believe that our long winters make us long for colour in Canada and unable to see flowers...we dress as such with yellows, reds and greens. The French are arch conservatives in dressing!

1 comment:

  1. The English had to conquer the world because they couldn't stand to eat their own food.

    I went to France for the first time last year on a two-week cycling trip. In some ways I didn't notice much difference in the food between there and North America. For instance, dinner out at night at garden-variety decent restaurants was about the same, except that they generally eat later and menu prices were all-inclusive, which I rather liked.

    The major difference, IMO, is the almost complete absence of what we call fast food here. Typical chain burger joints like McDonald's, Burger King, etc. are rare and others like Taco Bell, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut are non-existent.

    Another thing I noticed is that there is very little "junk food" in the supermarkets. When I'm in the middle of a long day on the bike, I like my little bag of nachos or potato chips to keep me going. No problem getting that here, but forget about it in France. They seem to like chocolate instead.

    Although I'm not a cheese connoisseur, I did appreciate the cheeses in France. One night at dinner, I was hungrier than usual after a particularly long day in the saddle so I chose a cheese plate to accompany my meal. When they brought it out, I though, pretty skimpy portions. But then I popped the first bit into my mouth and it was an explosion of flavor.

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