Being married to a French guy and all, you’d think that some of his Frenchness would rub off on me. Maybe some of it has but let’s be real. I lived most of my life in the USA, so there are plenty of French things I just don’t understand or do — probably a good and bad thing. 😉
French things I don’t do
You can only adapt so much…. 😉 Here’s my short list of French things I don’t do.
I’m not a volet master.
I couldn’t care less about whether the volets are open or closed except when I wake up in the morning and it’s pitch black in the kitchen. I faithfully open the volets downstairs so I can see my coffee cup in the light of day and to let the dog out but beyond that? I don’t bother with them. Volets look like hurricane shutters and we’re not in Florida. Tom sometimes wonders why he’ll walk into a room at night and I’m there with my lamp on in full view of people outside. Why? Because I’m anti-volet. It’s annoying to constantly open and close the windows to care about some silly shutter things that triple pane glass and good blinds can take care of. But this is why I have my husband. He opens and closes the volets every day like clockwork and if he didn’t? They’d all be left open 24/7 (and the ones upstairs always are when he’s away).
I buy a baguette once every other month.
The majority of French people really do buy baguettes daily (or at least several times per week) and the booming boulangerie business will confirm that. But little old me? I spend about 2 euros/month at the bakery and buy a baguette here and there and when my in-laws visit. The bread is good and all and I enjoy it, but it just hasn’t made it into my daily routine. It’s not something I need. Tom’s not a bread fiend either so we often go without and we’re both fine with it.
I don’t make French-style coffee.
People complain that American coffee is weak, but listen, at least we have options! There’s the “regular” Dunkin’ Donuts-style coffee and espresso and everything else like skinny no-whip one-pump vanilla this and that. I miss Dunkin’ Donuts coffee like crazy. Now here, if you pop into a French cafe and ask for un café s’il vous plait, you’ll be given a tiny black shot of espresso-strength coffee in a little cup that will take you about two sips to finish. Even at my in-laws’ house, when they brew a pot of coffee, it’s so strong that I have to cut it with water and milk. When French people come to visit us, I use my Nespresso machine to make them a little cup of something strong and then brew a pot of my regular coffee that I’ll add milk to. I guess I’m a tad set in my ways when it comes to coffee.
I don’t really like specialties like oysters, boudin noir or tripe.
I know many people love these foods but they just don’t jive with me. I wrote about it here.
I mess up the order of things at mealtime — on purpose.
If I’m cooking at home, I’ve been known to eat salad before or with my meal (not after, like many French do), and bust out some cheese with the main course instead of eating it after. Who cares? The French have a more systematized way of doing things. It all ends up mixed together in your stomach anyway, though, right?
Paying by check at the grocery store.
It seems like whenever I’m in a rush at the grocery store, the person in front of me has to pay by check. It’s surprisingly common (and not just for those over 70 years old). This grinds the flow of the line to a halt while we all stand there and mentally huff and puff. To not aggravate the people behind me, I never pay by check at the grocery store. Well, the real reason is because I don’t have a checkbook and don’t know how to fill out French checks. But even if I did have a checkbook, I wouldn’t use it. Didn’t checks die in the ’90s?
That social politeness thing.
OK, most of the time I’m 90% there. Really. I make sure to say my bonjours and s’il vous plaits and respect social boundaries and the polite conversational norms. But sometimes my American-ness takes over and I’m curious and ask too many questions. The French may come across as cold because small talk isn’t a cultural norm in France, but sometimes American-style questions can seem invasive and cross the line into one’s personal sphere (even though this might be normal in the US). What can I say… I’m learning. You can take the girl out of America but you can’t take America out of the girl.
So there you have it, some French things I don’t do. What about you?