Food is one thing we can’t live without. There are times when food is good to us – we enjoy it and end up stuffing our faces with it. And then, there are times when food makes us sick. Trust me, even in France, an Américaine can expect to find herself fitting into these two scenarios. Thankfully, the second one is not so often experienced.
The stéréotype exists: Food in France is always what I like to call it: fancy, aka top qualité. Sure, one can find this fancy food at an equally fancy restaurant, but it is likely to be expensive and not always what the French eat on a daily basis.
So, what do the French eat? Well, this is a loaded question. Are we seeking the answer to what do French high-schoolers and young-adults eat? What do French children eat? or What do French adults eat? On the one stéréotypé-hand, they all eat the same thing for dîner: Whatever mom/dad/the adult cooks. Although this is a stéréotype, for the most part, this rings true in most French households. Typique French home-made food is, in my opinion, fancy…(fancy in this case means DELICIOUS)! I live in the south, though, so I can really only speak for southern French food, spécifiquement the food from the Provence région (because food in France is generally categorized by région, though, for the purposes of this post, I’ve left it as uncomplicated as: north vs. south). Provence has her own recettes that differ from that of the north. For exemple, there’s the Bohémienne (my favorite!), which according to mon chéri‘s grandma, is the version Provençal of Ratatouille.
There’s La Daube, Tapenade (olive spread), La Soupe au Pistou, Le Cassoulet…
…I could go on and on.
Because of the warm climate in the south, olive oil tends to replace the beurre from the north. Southern chefs also use a lot more lavande and thym in their cuisine. In fact, in Juillet, mon chéri and I went thym picking in the forêt next to his dad’s house. There’s nothing like fresh thym. Rosé is also often present during lunch and dîner. But, certain things stay the same between the north and the south: fromage and a baguette (or other form of bread – mon chéri and his famille adore the Marius) are always present.
On the other hand, there’s the growing rise in…what I like to call it: faulty food – aka fast-food. During lunch, this stéréotype of eating as a famille changes (with the exception of Sunday – the French still hold famille Sunday lunch to heart). During the school year, primaire children can either 1. Eat whatever the school offers (which is always a well-balanced meal that never forgets the baguette nor the fromage – but, this meal is not considered fancy by any French person I’ve met, though, by Américain standards, it’s fancy). 2. Go home for lunch and eat whatever mom/dad/baby-sitter makes or eat at a Snack (aka a fast-food joint). High-schoolers and young adults have similaires options – except they have more freedom from their parents. So, they generally tend to stay near the school and eat at a Snack.
There’s the stéréotype that fast-food doesn’t existe in France. This is a LIE. For starters, there’s Quick, FLUNCH, Pizza Capri, pizza carts that make pizza from wood-fired ovens located throughout cities, and a centaine Kebab (think gyro meets burrito loaded with fries) joints. And then there’s the Américain marks: McDo, Burger King, KFC… I can go on.
But, those kebabs are just SO GOOD! Also, the food at the Américain marks is différent than in the U.S. In fact, one time, I was at McDo with some friends (not my choix) and I discovered that they sell pasta! The meat is différent, too. The growth hormone, rGBH is forbidden in France, so, perhaps that has something to do with this différence in taste.
On 14 Juillet 2014, I found myself with mon chéri and some friends at a beach in Marseille. Nearly 80% of the beach goers were overweight. I was as shocked as my friends. In the U.S., we have the idea that all French people are in the best shape and that no one is overweight. This is clearly false. One of the overweight kids (he must’ve been about 7 years old) in front of us on the beach was scarfing down potato chips. I didn’t wonder how he ended up overweight; however, I wondered if France continues in this fashion, what will continue to bring Américains touristes here? As touristes, we like to compare the différences and similarités – if everything’s the same, then what’s the point of spending the money for a trip to France? Américains can get this fast-food at home, so, really, the only other reason to visit France would be for the landscape and the language différences… but even that’s pushing it (I mean, there are 2 mountain ranges in the U.S., plus the grand canyon, the gulf of Mexico, Niagra Falls…). I’m not the only expat who’s noticed this rise, either: Check out this post by my friend and fellow blogueur, Jenny.
On the bright side, this rise in fast-food has not yet completely taken over the country. In fact, mon chéri notes that “the number of fast-food restaurants in the U.S. is the same as the number of clothing boutiques in France.” That is to say that there are still more clothing boutiques than fast-food joints in France. So, for now…COME VISIT!
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