We’re on our way back to France after spending two weeks in the NY/NJ/PA area visiting family, friends and reacquainting ourselves with the place I used to call home. There were plenty of frozen yogurt runs, Dunkin’ Donuts coffees and good food and fun all around. Highlights for Tom? Probably going to a shooting range with my uncle to fire a gun for the first time and being scarily accurate (better than my uncle actually and hit the orange target for all 20 shots at 10 yds. Shooting at a gun range would be nearly impossible to do in France). And for me? Probably getting to experience all of the awesome boutique fitness studios that have popped up in the last couple of years like barre3, Flywheel and some independently owned fitness studios in NJ. And of course seeing those we love and indulging in awesome food and shopping.
Surprising things about the USA
Oh and another highlight? Visiting my friend’s dogs who are Dagny’s pals from across the ocean. Aren’t they cute?
Anyway, there were actually a few things that surprised me while being back in the US:
The a/c was just a little over the top.
I love air conditioning. Really. I only like being hot and sweating if I’m working out and am a fan of winter. But when the temperatures are perfectly comfortable in the 70s and mid-80s (not humid Miami where you need it), blasting freezing-cold air conditioning is too much. The stark contrast between indoor and outdoor temperatures was never a problem for me in the past but after living in France for almost three years, I have to say the a/c was starting to feel really cold after just a week in the U.S. Comfortable air is fine but freezing cold a/c was jarring and actually annoying. Is France rubbing off on me?
Very easy to slip back into your old life.
Going to all your old restaurants and stores and driving down the same roads, seeing your old coworkers and more all felt very familiar and easy. Almost too easy. Little insignificant things have changed but overall everything felt the same as it did last summer when we were in town and it felt like I picked up just where I left off – with people, with my routine and with the places we visited. It was like I never left in a lot of ways and that was refreshing.
Took it easy on the alcohol and didn’t have a single cupcake.
I’m not a heavy drinker but in France we have wine with dinner a couple of times a week. I figured maybe I’d let loose on vacation and indulge in specialty cocktails or seasonal treats I can’t get in France. But as it turns out, I only had wine or a cocktail with dinner three times. And even more shockingly, Crumbs Bakery (workplace birthday party staple when I was working in the Financial District) has closed down. The cupcake powerhouse is no more and cupcakes from anywhere else just aren’t the same. Although I was tempted by Sprinkles in the World Financial Center, the line was too long to justify the $4 cupcakes so we walked on by on our way to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Whole Foods doesn’t label samples as accurately as they should.
I’ve been a fan of Whole Foods Market for years and when we drove by a store in Millburn, NJ, I had to stop in. I happily spent $50 on snacks that I can’t get in France and as I strolled through the produce department with a smile plastered on my face, I stopped to grab an apple sample set out on a plastic display. Now let me mention I have an allergy to citrus. It’s not life threatening but it does cause a painful reaction that causes blisters and chapping on my throat and mouth and it’s not fun to say the least. The little sign next to the sample dish said the apple variety and where they were from but nothing else. So I figured they were just apples and safe for me to eat. Not so….
Tom and I each grabbed a piece of the apple and immediately after swallowing it I started to panic. I tasted orange or lemon juice and flagged down an employee who nonchalantly told me they put orange juice on the samples to keep them from browning. Yet there was no mention of the juice on the label next to the samples. I then asked to speak to the produce manager because all ingredients should be noted for a few reasons 1) People with an intolerance or allergy like me depend on accurate info when making decisions about what to eat. 2) By not disclosing the juice, the apple’s flavor is a little misleading. And if customers buy the apples and expect them to have that citrus tang, they’ll be sorely disappointed when it tastes like a regular apple upon biting into it at home. I understand that mistakes happen and was happy to see the product manager swiftly run over to the sample to update the sign to include orange juice. But why wasn’t this done in the first place. How many other samples are inaccurately labeled at Whole Foods Markets? Are they cutting corners anywhere else? I just want to make sure they label samples accurately going forward and understand the importance of doing so. Granted my allergy isn’t serious or super common, but still, it’s the principle of it.