Monday, February 20, 2012

France vs. U.S.A.

Since I've run down all the ways I think the U. S. of A. kicks the croissants out of France, it's only fair that we turn the tables with my list of Ten Things I Like Better About France. Let's do this.

{a smidgen of the selection}

1. Wine (you aren't really surprised by this one are you?). The wine selection at the grocery store is greater than the selections of juice, soda, cereal... anything really (well maybe except for cheese). There are so many types to explore beyond Bordeaux, Merlot, and Sancerre and I'm definitely up to the challenge. When I'm back in the States, shopping for wine makes me want to cry. Now that I'm used to proper wine labels, as in labels that just state the name of the maker, like Château Blah-Blah, the type of grape, and where it's from, when I'm looking at wine in Texas I'm totally confused... Dashing Horse, Leaping Frog, and all the other critter labels.  They're cute and all, but how am I supposed to know what that tastes like???

2. C H E E S E (I don't think I need to say anything else about this one).

3. Sticking with cheese... whole parties devoted to cheese, i.e.; raclette and fondues. From now on to me, winter will forever be associated with melted cheese and that's awesome.

4. The pizza van. And I'm sure you're all like, "yeah we have food trucks too" and I know they are super trendy right now and everywhere peddling their yummy mobile goodness, but they aren't exactly trolling around rural areas now are they. But here, every village has a pizza night where a van provides delicious sustenance cooked by someone else and that's a big treat when you don't have fast food on every corner. And here's the thing that many of you may not know... pizza maybe Italian but is also somewhat of a speciality down here in the south of France (Marseille has a large Italian community, even The Husband's grandmother was from Italy) and it's so delicious that the reigning World Pizza Champion is French, has a pizzeria in Salon-de-Provence, and I have a date to eat there in a few weeks with La Professeur. Lucky me.

5. The weekly markets. Love them. Sure they aren't too much fun during the height of tourist season but hey, everyone should get to experience the wonder that is the Provencal market. Depending on the size of the market, you can buy anything from, cheese, saussion sec, tapenades, linens, rotisserie chickens, home wares, pottery, and the cute baskets to carry all your market finds in (I've had two of these cute baskets, Fifty has eaten both).

6. Only in rural Provence would you come across this...

{sun block}

7. Saying bonjour to everyone is a rule. You walk into a store or bank, and you say bonjour, it's considered rude if you don't. It's just plain polite and I like it. And of course there's, La Bise (the kissing). I love la bise, even though it confuses the bejeezus out of me. In Le Petit Village, we give two kisses, but in Avignon, only a little over an hour away, they give three. Where's the border? Is there like some kissing line we drive over (someone really should draw a map). And check this out, Saturday night we had a dinner at a friend's house and the friend and I exchanged two kisses, but then when I saw him the next day, at a party outside of Avignon, he gave me three! How am I supposed to know what the what is?  I think from now on I'm just going to outdo everyone and give four.



8. The ritual of the meal here, especially lunch (Aidan just wrote this post about the tradition of lunch in France). It's a big deal and not to be rushed. It's nice, drawn out and very relaxing, and it always begins with an apéro. Which brings us to...

9. L'apéro. L'apéro is designed to whet the appetite and you always have one before beginning a meal with friends whether at a restaurant or in a home. It's a drink such as Martini Blanc, Martini Rouge, a Kir Royale, a glass of Champagne, or a Pastis (or really any ol' thing you'd like to imbibe) as well as a snack like olives or nuts. There's something about it that feels old fashioned and decadent and it's probably one of my favorite things about life here.

10. And the thing I like the most about most France... it made this guy.


bisou

33 comments:

  1. cute post! I particularly like the apéro!

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  2. Yup, la bise. Errrm, there are parts of this glorious country where it's 4 so perhaps you should just up it to 6 and cover all your bases.

    Love the wine section and the cheese selection, but don't forget the water aisle/section. I don't know about Texas, but the grocery stores I've been to in the US and in Canada all combined don't carry the same amount of bottled water as you can find in the convenient store. (Slight exaggeration.)

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    1. oh yeah, I've gotten the four before... so you're right, maybe I should up it to six :)

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  3. Oh my goodness. I watched that video and I'm even more confused about the french and their kissing than i was before I went into it!

    And holy moly! No way... the cheese and wine are better in Europe than in the US? Who would've thunk it? Hahaha. :)

    Hope your weather there is as nice as it is here! 42 degrees and sunshine! AHHHH!!!!

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  4. Umm... the pizza van sounds AMAZING! I've never tried the food trucks here, but I'm hoping to asap!
    I love how every other country besides USA (it seems like...) takes the time to slow down and enjoy LIFE. Eating a lunch that isn't rushed? What would that be like?

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  5. I am loving this post. Beaucoup des bises. Xoxo

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  6. LOVE that last photo. He's such a sweetie your man. The Texas sweater is just gold!
    I am going to miss my mail box. It's super big and the mailman has the key to it and will put big packages in there when I'm out so I don't have to go down to the postoffice to pick them up. It saves me so much time, given my amazon addiction.
    The bread is also waaaaay better here than in Australia (and I'm guessing the US).

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  7. This post made me smile-- and want to visit France!

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  8. The kissing sound so confusing! Here it's always two but I haven't gotten quite used to it yet, to kiss everyone you meet socially although you have never seen them in your life and will probably or possibly never see them again. But never knowing the number of kisses? Sounds like that can bring some awkvard moments...
    L'apéro sounds nice and I love number 10 :)

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  9. Your list is making me want to move to France!! Love that everyone says bonjour as you walk in :) That's not only polite, it's nice!

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  10. I wish we had la bise here!! I think it's so neat and friendly. And don't even get me started on the cheese...I think there is a French person inside of me just dying to get out!!

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  11. Fred's people give four kisses. You're there, like all day, just kissing people. During it, I'm looking at my watch, thinking, "I have so much more I could be doing. When is greeting going to end?"
    Great post. Cute Husband. No wonder you followed him there. I totally get it!
    m.

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  12. Totally agree! And I was told (by French friends) that two kisses was the norm and 3 was for close friends...does not sound like that's your experience.

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  13. Totally agree - I'm an expat too (London) and have one more thing to add - brocantes! I love the spring and summer brocantes - I know we often translate it as boot sale but come on - some of these "fairs" are great and way more than a boot sale - in beautiful locations, strange and wonderful chip vans and food offerings, sometimes a band and best of all always a bargain. I picked up a wooden framed hall mirror with an Eiffel Tower on - it was issued the year the Tower was erected in 1889 and cost 2 Euros - if you're a vintage article nut like me - its heaven here!

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  14. LOL. Love your list, I do wish our dinners were moer drawn out here...guess I could make that happen in my own home!

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  15. Lovely post! Like the drawn out lunch...often eaten on the run here!! Have a good week:)
    ~Anne

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  16. Okay. America is like "rock on!" But I have to admit France sounds absolutely lovely. Slower paced. Kisses everywhere. And cheese!

    The "la bise" video made me laugh out loud. Just don't "lean in, ass out." Bahaha!

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  17. I have to tell you that as much as I love living in Buenos Aires. .. the food is disappointing and boring.
    I look forward to eating and drinking a variety of things again ..besitos. C

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  18. A very good list. I would add boulangeries and wide availability of good baguettes and for us here in California I would add Foie Gras since that will soon be outlawed in this state.

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  19. The names of wines in America always gets me laughing. I wonder who started that strange trend?

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  20. You'll notice too that the yoghurt aisles are massive here, and in the plural. Sainsbury's in the UK has half an aisle of kiddy stuff and over-priced 'premium' types.

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  21. What a great list! The cheese, wine and apero are on the top of my list too. But where or where are all of the delicious breads and patisseries? That definitely is high on my list! ;)

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  22. What a great post! It just reminded me so much of my year living in France - happy memories....Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.com/

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  23. What a great list! I like both your America vs. France comparisons. A French friend brought us some delicious cheeses and fleur de sel. Yum! This would be fun to do for us bloggers/expats over here in Turkey as well.

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  24. Dang, #10 is Good Looking! Lucky you!

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  25. I've just been scrolling down your posts enjoying your lovely blog - I'm delighted to be your newest follower!

    http://www.sarainlepetitvillage.com/

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  26. I think I could be so happy living a charming little life in Provence... any homes for sale near you? ha ha I have a playmate for Fifty... my little dog and he would be the best of friends! xo

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  27. I love how this post revolves straight up around food and wine. We would get along reaaaaaal well. And your hubs looks so Texan in that sweatshirt, awesome!

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  28. Hi Sara,
    I read both the comparison posts and got a great kick out of them! We live in Canada, love France, visit as often as we can and enjoy many things French. The convenience however of finding my favorite peanut butter at a grocery store at 11 pm is important when I have run out. I love a cafe creme at a small bistro in the morning in France, they do coffee so well, but don't get television at all. Some of the programs are well, embarrassing. Mostly what I like though is your writing style, it's so real, I imagine you talk the same way. Thank you for the delightful blog.
    Cheers,
    Craig

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  29. Oh yes, the markets! I can't wait to get back to European market shopping.

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  30. My favourite: number 8, for the win !! Great list.

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  31. Somebody really did do a map of the bisou regions of France. I can't find it now but I know it exists.

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