Even Americans Want a Taste

For better or for worse, there’s no denying that American fast food has become arguably as popular in France as it is back home. If you live in a city, there’s always a KFC, a Pizza Hut, or a McDonald’s in the neighborhood. What’s interesting from an American perspective is how these places can feel simultaneously so familiar and so foreign. The idea, of course, is to take an American brand and make it appeal to a French consumer, so sometimes you end up with some interesting cross-cultural creations. Some are very clear efforts to transform traditional favorites. Take, for example, the one that even made the news back in the States: Continue reading Even Americans Want a Taste

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What breakfast was meant to be.

Image used under the terms of
the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license
© 2006 Virtual Steve

I first encountered muesli in the form of Kellogg’s Müeslix back when I was a teenager, and I finally got to taste the real thing when I first traveled to Germany and Switzerland in 1992. Based on those first experiences, I always thought of muesli as a (relatively) healthy breakfast option. I mean …

whole grains + fruit + nuts = pretty good for you, right?  Continue reading What breakfast was meant to be.

The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

Yesterday, we met up one of my high school friends that I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years! Kate and her family were in Paris as part of a 5-month European adventure that, from all accounts, promises to be one of the best vacations I’ve ever heard about. We talked about their plans over dinner, then splurged on some decadent ice cream for dessert, and strolled through the city under a gorgeous full moon, reliving old memories from our high school days and laughing all the while. It was great catching up with Kate and her husband Jeff, but the icing on the cake was when I got to tell their seven-year-old daughter that …

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THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY! Continue reading The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

525,600 minutes

Every August 15, a big anniversary rolls around.

August 15, 2010 was the day I left the US with big dreams, 130 pounds of luggage, and a one-way ticket to Charles de Gaulle. The days leading up to the anniversary are always full of reflection and nostalgia for me. I spend a lot of time looking back at what I’ve accomplished — or failed to accomplish — but I also look ahead to what the new year might bring my way. It’s a bit like New Year’s in mid-summer.

Two years ago, on my first anniversary as an expat in France, I recounted the beautiful story of what led me to this country in the first place (“The Patience of a Butterfly“). Last year, as my second anniversary rolled around, I waxed rather philosophical about it all, writing about change as the very essence of life (“Every Beginning is Only a Sequel“). This year, I’m doing something quite a bit different. You see, I have a Facebook tradition every August 15: I start a new photo album into which I will post scores of photos of my life during the upcoming year. A few days ago, in preparation for “Ma vie à Paris: la quatrième année,” I was scrolling through last year’s album, and I was reminded of what a monumental year it’s been: chock full of the usual stresses of expat life, of course, but also charged with exciting developments that promise good things to come. This August 15, then, I’ve decided to share with you a little photographic montage of the last 525,600 minutes of my life as an expat — the mundane and the exciting, the frustrating and the promising, even the delicious and the inebriating … and the sentimental, of course. So … how do you measure a year in the life? Continue reading 525,600 minutes

American Sauce

I remember the first time I came across “American Sauce,” too. It reminded me of a less chunky Thousand Island dressing. In any case, as soon as I read this, I ran to check the ingredients in our jar to make sure this vegetarian hadn’t been slathering lobster stock on his sandwiches. Whew! Our supermarket brand doesn’t use it. Check out the story behind the name in this article by a fellow expat blogger: Cheese FC. Bon appétit !

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Le Petit Parisien, Willy Ronis (1952)

Even though I’ve lived in France for almost three years, I’m still pleasantly surprised every now and then by cultural discoveries like …

A Baguette Bag! Continue reading The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Where’s the Fire?

This weekend, I celebrated my fifth Bastille Day in France, and I’ve done something different every single year. Back in 2007, I was en route from Marseille to Washington after a vacation in Provence: nothing too special to report from the short layover at Charles de Gaulle. In 2009, I picnicked with Michel and his friends in the Bois de Vincennes and happened to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower fireworks from the Louvre on our way home. In 2011, Michel and I trekked down to Pont des Invalides to watch the fireworks from a better vantage point. They were pretty impressive. Last year, we just stayed home … but by doing so, we got to watch from our window fireworks in four different Paris suburbs: La Courneuve, Le Bourget, Drancy, and Bobigny. This year, we kicked it up a notch. We went to my first ever …

Firemen’s Ball Continue reading Where’s the Fire?

“Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

Hitchhiking … showing approval … or showing the number “one”?

I don’t reblog very often, but sometimes you come across something that’s just too good not to share. While it’s not really a “blog,” FUSAC is an English-language magazine published in France that caters to those living the expat dream. In the July 5 edition, there was a great little article by Shari Leslie Segall identifying the top 20 signs that you’re becoming French. Of course, I had to read it and do my own personal assessment. I’m happy to report that I’m well on way, with a score of 14 out of 20.

Here’s where it seems my evolutionary process is stalled, though (you need to read the FUSAC article to follow this): Continue reading “Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

Be Our Guest

A while back, I wrote a little piece about one of the many advantages of knowing “theatre people”: getting free tickets to big shows! Well, last night, I enjoyed yet another perk: getting invited to press previews of upcoming productions. “Which one?” you ask …

La Belle et la Bête

Beauty and the Beast Continue reading Be Our Guest