Friday, October 10, 2008

The best of both worlds

What I miss about the States:

1) Canned chicken broth. Do French home chefs really content themselves with freeze-dried cubes, or do they have way more time on their hands to boil down chicken parts than I do?

2) The in-sink garbage disposal. Or mange-merde, as much husband prefers to call it.

3) National Public Radio. Even if my visit home just happens to fall during a pledge drive.

4) Neighborhood restaurants that serve brunch. Eggs Benedict, hash browned potatoes, and yes, I would like a warm up on my coffee, thank you.

5) Banana Republic. I am a victim of my fashion demographic, perhaps, but at least in Paris I'm the only thirty-something wearing the merino top of the season.

6) Ice cream. For some reason, the French cannot produce decent supermarket ice cream. Just why this is is a mystery, since there is an entire aisle of delicious yogurt with every flavor under the sun.

7) Brightly-colored wooden houses. They would never look right in a neighborhood of Versailles and most French I've met are skeptical of their solidity, but you just can't build a front porch with stuccoed cinder blocks.

8) Good microbrewed beer. If it exists in Paris, do let me know.

9) Room to grow. I love my six-hundred square-foot apartment and it is big by Parisian standards, but oh! to have another bedroom. And a bigger kitchen. And an office. And...

10) American comfort food. If exceptional resourcefulness is required to scrounge up corn on the cob, bake a pumpkin pie, or put together a truly tasty burger, it just isn't the same.

What I would miss most if I ever left France:

1) Cheap, wholesome bread. One Euro, four ingredients, and nothing I can't pronounce on the label.

2) Fancy washing machines. Where's the precision in hot/warm, warm/cold, and cold/cold?

3) A separate room for the toilet. Not only is it more attractive, it helps limit household traffic jams.

4) Practical public transportation. Seattle specializes in useless mass transit: the monorail, the bus tunnel, and a tramway to nowhere. They're trying harder than most American cities, at least.

5) Shutters that aren't just decorative. Sometimes, cocooned away in his pitch-dark bedroom, le Petit sleeps until eight-thirty or nine. Try getting that with Levalors.

6) Appetizing jarred baby food. Le Petit is just not a Gerber Baby, and he would miss his Bledichef couscous dinners terribly.

7) Market Day. The Pike Place Market is fun for tourists, but how many folks here are lucky enough to have a street market within walking distance of their home? Which brings me to:

8) Walking everywhere. I don't drive in France and most of the time I don't miss it. Everything I need is a walk or a Metro ride away.

9) Really fast trains. I don't take the TGV often, but it is darn cool to know that I can cross the country in mere hours.

10) Having Europe at my doorstep. Shall we go to Germany or Spain this year? Or maybe Italy? And thanks to those really fast trains, we can spend a weekend in Amsterdam on in London on a whim.

Now, dear readers, what would you most miss if you left home?


Isabelle said...

Bonjour Parisienne, very clever list that you've made here!

You already know that I've never lived in the U.S., only spent some vacations there.

What I miss about France when I'm in the U.S.:
The baguette, "real" tasty cheese, good pastry (éclairs, macarons, pains au chocolat etc.), frozen food from Picard, the cultural life in France...

What I miss about the U.S. when I come back home:
The stores open 24/7 (how nice to be able to do your grocery shopping when you want to, and not at the same time as millions of other grumpy French people!).
The SPACE, big houses, big parking lots, lots of room everywhere. I always feel very depressed coming back to "small" France.
The relaxed attitude of the people, the French are way too stiff!
And the comparatively cheap life (specially clothing and food).

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Isabelle: Clothes are still cheap, but food has gotten remarkably expensive. We were shocked, especially by the price of produce. It seems to have changed a lot since we lived in Boston.

Goddess Babe said...

Given I was there for the neighborhood restaurant serving brunch, I must say that we had a darn good brunch! And, not only was it a warm up on the coffee, but that coffee mug was at least 16 oz, if not 20! And let's hear it for the dungeness crab be, too!

Having breakfast with you was like finding the old sweater (from college, of course!) in the back of your closet and trying it on to find that not only is it still/back in style, it fits better than you remembered! (Now, if only it had been MOUNTAIN DAY, too. Missed that by a couple weeks.)

Thanks for making the long trip from Paris, sis.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Goddess Babe: thank YOU for making the long trip out from Delaware! Your whole visit was like Mountain Day for me. Mountain Day with toddlers, that is.

So big, big hugs...

Next time in the Gers?

Sophie, Inzaburbs said...

I guess I now call the US home. What I would miss the most? Even during the 3 months it is too hot to spend much time outdoors here in Texas, my kids can get their exercise running around the house.

What do I miss about France? Pain au raisin. Europe on my doorstep (ditto for the many years we lived in the UK). Oh... shutters. Yes. You have succeeded in making me nostalgic for shutters.

I tagged you for a meme, by the way!

Kathleen said...

Bonjour! I stumbled on your blog a while back, and as a Seattleite who adores France and has spent multiple summers there, I enjoy reading it.

That said, while you may not have good grocery store ice cream, you have Magnums! Oh, those ice cream husband and I dream about them and wish (in vain, I'm sure) they would appear in Seattle one day.

And, yes, I agree with you on the transit issue -- we try to live the carless lifestyle here and it is a challenge at times.

Thanks for this post! It made me miss being in France. :)

Shay said...

" just can't build a front porch with stuccoed cinder blocks."

Mais si! I live in a 1917 cinder block/stucco bungalow with the second-best front porch in town.