Foreign countries are different places

They do things differently there:

Parisian parents are outraged that a school lunch consisting of “industrial triangular sandwiches” was served to their children instead of a balanced, cooked meal this week.

Imagine, a sarnie?

Some things are of course the same, bureaucratic lying:

Parents were aghast when their children told them they had been given “an industrial, pre-packed triangular sandwich of the kind sold at motorway service stations,” said one mother, Anne.

“The children had been promised what was described as a special picnic meal, but this is verging on a scandal.”

“Special picnic meal” is good.

“Magnificent wildlife safari ” – camping in the cow field. Other similar invited.

20 thoughts on “Foreign countries are different places”

  1. If Anne was so fucking concerned why did she not get off her lazy arse and make a packed lunch for her child(ren)?

  2. You can’t have a proper picnic without sandwiches. Mind you, how do the French keep the snails from sliding out of the two slices of bread?

  3. The Daily Mash, back in its salad days, had a good un about Marks and Sparks expanding into Frogland:

    M&S about to learn 14 different French words for ‘shit’

  4. TimN

    ” The French take food seriously…….”

    Correct, but you find me a modern French woman under the age of 40 who can actually cook; that’s beneath their dignity now.

    Their mothers most certainly could – and put in the hard work shopping and preparing to make it so. They are living on the fumes of that culture.

  5. Correct, but you find me a modern French woman under the age of 40 who can actually cook; that’s beneath their dignity now.

    Fair point. As with the UK, it’s mostly the young men who do the cooking now.

  6. “Correct, but you find me a modern French woman under the age of 40 who can actually cook; that’s beneath their dignity now.”

    My French wife, now well into her 40s, couldn’t boil water successfully. The French girl, in her 20s, was living with me in my London apartment before we both f****d off across La Manche for a better life, could miracle an exquisite four course meal for 6 out of a few packets in the larder & leftovers in fridge. Like many comments here, they tell you more about the commentators than the commented upon.
    The gratefully ex was a sometime model, daughter of a comfortably off Provence family. The youngster was a Flanders village girl. If you’re selecting for the university educated, metropolitan middle-classes, what do you expect? These days, I seem to have developed a taste .for latinas out of S. American poverty. There’s not one of them can’t cook. The cuisine Bahiana served in this house is to die for. There’s people plead for dinner invites.
    However, it may be uniquely Brit, that even the poor can’t cook. Maybe because there aren’t any.

  7. BiS

    “tell you more about the commentators…….If you’re selecting for the university educated, metropolitan middle-classes, what do you expect? ”


    The three French women I went out with, all fell into that category. The only cooking they could envision was heating up a ready meal, but they all were intensely serious about the status and seriousness of French cuisine.

  8. When I was young I spent a few months in the US. It was striking that, with one exception, the poor man’s food was better than the upmarket stuff.

    For breakfast I’d typically have fried egg on rye, fresh orange juice, and bunch of seedless grapes. For lunch a hot dog or a hamburger. Dinner might be a large roll (the weak bit) with heaps of salad and turkey meat.

    The exception was a meal on Cape Cod – chowder and then lobster.

    I also had a good Chinese meal in San Francisco. Expensive it wasn’t. We were the only white faces in the joint.

    And the coffee was everywhere, without exception, dire. So was the cheese. Christ, the cheese!

    Why the richest country in the world – and, by God, the difference between the US and Europe was enormous then – chose to eat crap, Lord knows. They had even mastered the art of ensuring there was no taste to tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, apples, ….

    On the other hand, they were a generous, kind and hospitable lot. Are they still?

  9. The french ladies I have had the pleasure of dallying with have all been more into shagging than cooking.

    Happy days.

  10. @dearieme
    My experience of the States is pretty limited, being centred around an Italian-American family spread between Brooklyn & across the river in NJ. But it’s hard to recognise your description. Home, we eat mainly Italian. Which is identical to being in Southern Italy. Including the cheeses. Although one of the wives is French. So again, there’s authentic French items on the table.Or would be, if they weren’t actually domestic produced, like the Italian. There’s a market for it, so it gets filled. There’s no shortage of Italians or French wanting to make a buck.Eating out & shopping in NYC is much the same as being in London. (Even in Chinatown, which is like Gerrard Street fare & not the vile shit the Brits outside the West End call a Chinky) Maybe a bit more variety. I certainly don’t remember food being bland & tasteless. Varied, excellent & above all cheap would be closer.
    Maybe it’s a product of being a stranger in a strange land & not being plugged into the local culture. I wouldn’t recommend eating-out where I am. Spanish fodder aimed at the tourists is close to tragic. But they seem to eat & enjoy it whereas they mightn’t get on with more authentic Spanish cuisine. Seen the same in France. The worst food is where the foreigners eat, because they aren’t French & will accept it. There’s no incentive to provide better.

  11. As to American food:

    When first I arrived on these shores (in the 80’s, in Colorado) the thing that struck me about the USA was just how damned low-cost it was. Supermarkets – you could get in and out with a week’s worth of food and wine for (by UK standards) just about nothing. And the food was no worse than a generic UK supermarket – but the choice was way below a Waitrose of the day because they only had shelf after shelf of mainstream Yank stuff. No interesting imported stuff.

    It’s changed. Enormously. Now a visit to the local supermarket for the pair of us for a week’s stuff (content varies with week, but the total’s more or less the same) and you’re left getting on for $300 poorer. Yes, we buy bottles of wine (Beaujolais Villages, not upmarket stuff – and that’s $13 a bottle these days, not $6) rather than boxes of wine (gave up on those because there’s no visual indication that you’ve had more than you should except falling over when you stand up, which is NOT a Good Thing) – but in both cases the vast majority of meals are home prepared and eaten at home (these days we escape to a local Mexican resto that I’ve been frequenting for 25 years – a liter of American margarita (that is, ice) and a shared medium-rare fajitas is $35 before the tip). We’re not extravagant.

    But here’s the thing: when we shop in the local supermarche in Normandy, we can exit having spent **less** money than we do here in Tejas. The wine is cheaper, and it may just be that which makes the difference. But I never thought I’d see the day…

  12. I’ve eaten in a number of italian restaurants stateside and the food isn’t necessarily bad, but it bears little resemblance to Italian food.

    Apart from the names.

  13. Dennis the Peasant

    It’s good to be reminded now and again that no matter how strange I think the British are, the French are much, much stranger.

  14. @DtP

    Yep, you can’t even buy a Quarter Pounder in McDonalds or Burger King

    Are tyres sold in France described as eg 205/406.4 ?

    On cooking: Swedish Mrs Pcar (dob 1972) and I can cook, whoever home first makes dinner.

    I learnt from my parents and chefs in their hotel – Mum often did breakfasts and dad was chef on chef’s day off (Sunday).

    On C4 – Food Unwrapped now

    ~2/3 of “young” eat two fast-food take-aways every day. Usual war on salt. Useful bit: bread is not bad, gluten free is not good/more-healthy; wraps are inferior to sandwiches (fat content)

  15. Bloke in North Dorset


    Gluten free if you aren’t gluten intolerant can be very dangerous to your health as well as your wallet.

    There’s a very good Freakonomics podcast about the Italian scientist who first diagnosed the problem.

  16. @BiND

    As is organic milk* – both lack vital vitamins &/or minerals

    * Discover you’re pregnant? Too late, damage already done; enjoy your cretin baby

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