Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I've been here in France for a week and a half now. While I'll never be French, my uncanny ability to adapt, acculturate, and eventually assimilate is starting to rear its ugly head. At least, in my dining habits. Not only have I started to visibly lose weight (Soon I'll be thin enough to wear a horizontally striped shirt! Or not...) but my way of eating is becoming noticeably more French. So I present to you...

Top 10 Signs You're Becoming French - For Better or Worse
10. You're not in a rush anymore. Deadlines at work still exist, of course... in name.
9. You can't imagine not starting the day with coffee. Nor not having one as soon as you get to work. Nor not having one at lunch. Nor not having one after dinner - you know, just before bedtime.
8. Things like foie gras, sweetbreads, and tripe sausage sound delightful. The thought of a mocha at Starbucks makes you want to gag.
7. You now find it perfectly acceptable to have a cocktail or aperitif before dinner, a glass or two of wine with dinner, and maybe even a digestif afterward. This is on top of your after-work beer. Every night. (Oh, who am I fooling? I always thought that was fine.)
6. Before answering a question, you do that pffffffffbrrrr puff thing with your mouth. (For reference, watch L'Auberge Espagnole)
5. You can clean off a rack of ribs with a knife and fork, tines always down.
4. You don't think "Socialism" is a dirty word.
3. You only start thinking about what's for dinner after 8:00pm.
2. Once you do start thinking about it, you feel that an omelette is a perfectly acceptable dinner.
1. You get the things out to make that omelette, and you go into a complete state of panic over the fact that you have no bread.

Numbers 3, 2, and 1 happened to me tonight. I happily thought, "Yes! I will make a delicious, light, thin omelette, perfectly accompanied by a Côtes du Rhône, and... HOLY HELL! I DON'T HAVE BREAD!!!" The horrific thought of having dinner without bread invaded my mind. The even more horrific thought of not having any for breakfast nearly stunned me. I looked at the clock: 8:12. The boulangerie I've been going to is most certainly closed. My only choice is probably stuff that may as well be a week old from Monoprix. Good god, what do I do? What do I do?

I quickly put on my coat, hat and boots and ran down two flights of stairs as though the building was on fire. "Maybe that one other bakery," I thought, "the one that's closing shop whenever I walk by. Maybe if I tap on the window they'll sell me something." Within about 3 seconds, I was in front of the boulangerie, and what do you know? The sign says they don't close 'til 21h00! (That's 9:00pm for you people not down with the 24-hour clock.)

I threw down a coin and got the very last baguette, much to the chagrin of the people behind me. If they wanted it, they'd have to fight me for it. And I may not be tall, but I'm about twice as wide as most Parisians. BRING IT ON!

Luckily, no one wanted to wrassle for my baguette, even though revolutions have been started and kings beheaded over them. Or so the story goes. So vital and important is the cylindrical loaf of bread that the price of a standard-length/width piece is regulated by the government. It is, with its crunchy outside and soft chewy inside, the flour-based fabric of polite French society.

Considering my own reaction to being breadless, I can't imagine what sort of popular revolt would come about if there was a massive bread shortage. If Dr. Atkins (he of the low-carb diet "revolution") had his own island, France would be perpetually at war with it. But that old quack is dead anyway, and here, bread is victorious. Vive la baguette!

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