Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The House of Brownie

A long line at the bakery yesterday left me staring for some time at the hand-lettered signs in the pastry case. It was no surprise to me that the American dessert fad that has hit France has not spared our local boulangerie. I wasn't expecting, however, to find a uniquely American touch: the brownies and muffins nestled amongst the croissants and brioches were decorated with superfluous apostrophes.

Although we all learn in school that apostrophes are used to indicate possession (Kathy's house) or build a contraction (it's = it + is), there's a large segment of the American population that throws them in, willy-nilly, wherever there's a word that ends in S. It's almost as if we wish them to be not just useful but ornamental.

Alas, the French seem to have recently picked up on this American mistake, and I've started seeing decorative apostrophes cropping up everywhere. Perhaps it's because the possessive apostrophe doesn't exist in French, and French schoolchildren have to bend their brains around possessive phrases in English to avoid saying "the dog of Jenny is bigger than the cat of Sam." Those that grasp the concept soon get carried away.

Our local boulangerie proudly sells brownie's maison, muffin's maison, and something labelled drop's, which looks like a flattened croissant sprinkled with chocolate chips. The maison designation indicates that all these delicacies are homemade, although at 2 euros apiece, I'm still not tempted.

So, I ask myself, is brownie's house bigger than muffin's house? And why don't the poor chocolate chip cookies maison earn their own apostrophe, do they look tasty enough on their own?

Today when I saw a Sécurité System's truck parked in the neighborhood I wondered, why is it that our worst habits are the easiest to export?

1 comment:

Mom in France said...

Well written!