Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grocery Research

A minor emergency required my presence in the French alps this past week. I spent a few days in a town called St. Jean de Maurienne and suffered from boredom punctuated by short periods of anxiety and panic. During the boredom, I wondered, what can I do for the blog? Ultimately I don't know much about France. Could I comment on lifestyle and culture in France with the same insight and precision that I exercise in Deutschland? The answer turned out to be, yeah, why not? The truth about France is complex. But I hate it when Europeans expect me to be a cross between LBJ and Homer Simpson, so why should I expect all Frenchmen to wear a beret, and drink red wine for le petit déjeuner?

At first I did see some "typical" French behavior. On Sunday morning every second person I passed on the street carried a bag with a pair of baguettes poking out the top. Individuals talking on the street did purse their lips in a Gallic way and blow air out with a shrug of their shoulders. But the grocery store tells a different story. Consider this yummy treat:

A bed of sauerkraut with an assortment of sausages, side meat, hot dogs and slices of what looks like salami. I don't know many Germans who could keep all this stuff down, but it seems like a regional specialty in this town. It was on the menu of at least one local restaurant. And this kind of prepared meal was a big item in the grocery store I visited. Options included paella and a kind of fish stew with salmon and mussels. Cooked chicken was another favorite. Even if we call it poulet, this doesn't look like my idea of French food.

I wandered through a section of the store devoted to toys and games and continued my research. First a game that looks very French. Participants build a funny looking swine-like creature. How does the girl get her braids to stick out like that?

But which is the bigger seller? "Build Your Own Cochon," or this item, clearly influenced by the kind of American who cuts his hair short on top but leaves it long at the back:

And then I came to this item. In a country where cheeses can stand up on their own little hairy gray legs, how do we explain this product? Easy, it's pour le burger.

1 comment:

Rebecca H said...

I hope everything is ok...and I hope you chose not to eat any of the pictured items in this blog, ew.