Category Archives: France

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture

Today I’m participating in the WordPress weekly photo challenge and this week’s theme is culture. Having been born and raised in France and now living in the US, I can truly say our home is bilingual and bicultural.

Son #1: “Mama, you don’t know Paul Bunyan because you’re not an American!”

That’s what my six-year old told me this week when he mentioned Paul Bunyan and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, Who? With that statement, my son had a simple explanation for my ignorance. Technically, I am an American by now, but there are still lots of facts I don’t know about America.  Like Paul Bunyan. Thank you, Google and Wikipedia for enlightening me!

I can tell you everything you’ve heard about “culture clash” is true. The first time you’re immersed in a different culture, everything amazes you. Then you start comparing and pointing out things you don’t like in the new, unknown culture. Once you’ve taken the time to learn more about the culture, you can be more objective and point out things you like and don’t like in both cultures.

Here are a few examples. French people can be grouchy, rude, and very loud. I once heard someone say, a French is like an Italian in a bad mood. That about sums it up. Now, I’ll never understand Americans’ obsession with guns and anything “big”: big cars, big homes, big boobs, big food plates, big bellies, you name it. All of these sound like stereotypes, but you soon learn that many (but not all) stereotypes happen to be based on reality. Stereotypes are just exaggerated versions of these facts. Funny how things work.

I want to think our home is a sanctuary where both cultures can live in harmony and it shows in every room. The place where it probably shows the most is in the kitchen. One of our most favorite breakfast food is croissants and pains au chocolat.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - pain au chocolat

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – pain au chocolat

But I also like to make pancakes, in this case, chocolate chip pancakes. Doesn’t everything taste better with chocolate?

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - chocolate chip pancakes

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – chocolate chip pancakes

Sometimes I like making quiche for a meal, here with asparagus and broccoli.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - veggie quiche

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – veggie quiche

But brownies are to be one of my favorite desserts.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - American brownies

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – American brownies

Reading is very important at my house and we read in both French and English. Our bookcases reflect both cultures. Here are a few of my books in French. I have many more in English.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - Books in French

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – Books in French

The kids also have tons of books in French, which tend to mix with the books in English on the bookcase without any problem or tension.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - Children's books in French and English

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – Children’s books in French and English

Finally the way we decorate our house is also very bicultural. I like to see French artists like Monet and Renoir on my wall.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - Monet painting

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – Monet painting

As for the kids, they definitely show a taste for Americana. You can’t be more American than Batman and Star Wars toys!

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture - Batman and Star Wars toys and decorations

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Culture – Batman and Star Wars toys and decorations

How much culture is reflected at your house? If you live in an all American house (or English, or whenever you come from), do you have cultural items that represent where everyone comes from?

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Every day, I see a cow… the French edition

Earlier this month our family of four spent two weeks in France, in the extended suburbs of Paris, to visit my family. You’d think the first thing I’d want to blog about is our trip itself, and what it was like to travel with two little boys 6000 miles and a 9-hour time difference away from home. Of course, there’s plenty to tell but I’ll have to save it for future posts.

That’s because the most surprising part of our trip was the revelation and confirmation about a theory I’ve entertained previously on this very blog – the fact that we all see a cow every day. For more on this, read “Every day I see a cow” and “Did you know they have cows at SeaWorld?” Well, it seems that the theory doesn’t just apply to the USA, but to other countries as well, or at least France in our case.

A Royal Cow

You probably think I’m making this up, right? Well, I’ll let you judge for yourself. I didn’t get to walk about with a camera in my hand every day, so I missed the chance to digitally capture quite a few cow sightings, but I managed to seize the most flagrant instance during our trip. Here’s the photo of a cool looking cow sculpture, amidst some green pastures.

Every day I see a cow, in France

Every day I see a cow, in France

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, the green pastures actually are the well maintained French gardens of this chateau, named Vaux-le-Vicomte.

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Who really expects to visit a French chateau and see a cow? Well, besides me, I’mwilling to bet that not too many people would!

The Typical Dairy Cow

The cow count didn’t stop there. Even though we frequented more of the countryside than the urban settings, we ended up seeing mostly representations of the bovine type rather than real cows. The most common places were at the grocery store, especially in the dairy aisle. The biggest offender there was “les 2 vaches” yogurt. Check out the really cute couple of cows portrayed on the top of this organic yogurt brand. If that doesn’t make you want to switch to organic dairy, I’m not sure what will!

Les 2 vaches yogurt

Les 2 vaches yogurt

The Fake Farm Cow

A more surprising cow sighting occurred the day we were leaving a Chinese restaurant. The business next door featured a small yard full of chickens and ducks, alongside statues of a mother cow and her calf (sorry, still no camera on that day). I guess the presence of fake bovines is supposed to make the hens feel like they really live in a farm, which will increase their egg production? I have no farming background or training, so that’s just a guess…

The Mall Cow

Finally, a shocking cow encounter occurred at the mall. Yes, the mall! A clothing store was displaying a cow statue at its entrance. Well, it did make me look, but I’m not sure I would buy anything in there. Are the clothes supposed to make me look like a cow? I’m pretty sure I missed the point there…

I swear that every day of our European trip, we did see a cow or a representation of a cow, so I believe this theory has proven to be tru,e even outside of the Americas continent. Are you keeping track of your daily cows? By the way, if you don’t believe in the theory, I just helped make a believer out of you with the few cows pictured in this post…

DECEMBER 31, 2010 UPDATE – The brand new “Every day I see a cow” blog is up and running, just in time to document daily cow sightings in 2011! Take a look and let me know what you think. “Every day I see a cow” is also on Facebook, so feel free to visit the page, like it, and share your own cow sightings with everyone. The more, the merrier!

Every day I see a cow on Facebook

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