Excentricités

As with anything new in life there’s always an adjustment period. I had told myself I’d need some time when I got here to feel settled and to get a sense for the lay of the land and most. This isn’t to suggest that change is bad, but that it’s normal and it takes time. Most of the time these little differences are pretty comical and other times very puzzling. I imagined that here, a culture steeped in good slow food, there would be everything and more within reach. Wrong. Every week or perhaps even daily I discover so many things that can’t be found around here. And when it’s not food related it might be words or customs I’m getting used to. Nothing too traumatizing but it’s a part of what makes traveling so enjoyable, getting used to a new normal.

Here are some interesting discoveries of late, pardon if I’ve already written about a few since I started this list a little while ago!

-You can’t find cheddar (or it’s an extreme rarity) the French think it’s crap but yet they have some fixation with Emmental I have yet to understand.
-No Black Beans! My love of mexican food may have to be interrupted for a short while until I resolve this dilemma!
-They don’t have buttermilk, in fact when I asked for “babeurre” (the translation) they looked at me puzzled. It exists in the dictionary but they all seemed genuinely repulsed.
-They do have the tastiest biscuits known as Speculoos! I warn you, they’re addictive! They aren’t French but I’m not complaining.
-Radiators are perfect to perch oneself on when cold, perfect seating height most of the time! Some of you might already know this because they have them but here, it’s all we’ve got!
-All showers so far have the finest line between scortching hot and icy cold. Beware of tapping the dial accidentally while inside this produces the kind of cold that will stop you in your tracks and make it nearly impossible to even turn the dial back to hot as you try and retain what little heat you have!
-All the windows have shutters that are opened and closed every day and you must open the window to the really cold wind to do it. The “salon” or living room has an electric one! Woo!
-There’s no translation for the word awkward
-Women’s Shaving cream… kind of difficult to find and when you do (which I haven’t) I’m told it’s horribly expensive… Thus my legs smell like a man!
-Almost all milk is UHT, ultra heat treated, therefore you can leave it the cupboard until you open it. I have yet to try it straight because it just sounds repulsive.
-Instead of teaspoons and tablespoons they call their measuring implements coffee-spoons and soup-spoons. Ha!
-All butter is un-salted
-Coffee is always served after a meal and never with a meal.
-Their keyboard is soooo confusing… Expected but I’d totally forgotten I’d run into this. I can never seem to find the keys I’m looking for but apparently the British keyboard is strange too!
-Mistral winds aren’t a joke. They’ve been blowing at 115km/hour some days. I’m not sure how the trees are still standing. It even makes it hard to light the fireplace!
-Even if one owns a dryer they rarely, if ever, use them. Hence I’ve frozen my sweater and my fingers trying to hang things outside when the racks inside are full.
-A French Press is known as a Cafetière à Piston.
-Commercials for food products have an advisory to remind you that snacking is unhealthy
-We like to make our own yogurt, which I haven’t done a few times before, but when I’ve got a craving for a flavored type I like to buy it in little ceramic pots!
-There is rarely an outlet in the bathroom so if you want dry hair you must find another place to do it!
-dessert spoons in Europe always go above the plate in a table setting
-Shops close down between the hours of 12h-14h (noon-2pm) to pay the utmost of respect to the most important meal of the day, “dejeuner”

Well that’s all I can think of for the time being. But hopefully you enjoyed some of the little things about life here and I’m sure I’ll add more as they come up!

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