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Today I decided that I was going to take the bus into the city after lunch. My Tantine who is wheelchair bound, took a taxi to my Tonton’s house to join us. It was the four of us enjoying vegetable soup, grilled herbed sausage links and sautéed string beans with garlic and parsley, followed by an array of French cheese and green salad. The television goes on at this point because we are ready for our coffee and chocolate. I didn’t have any chocolate because I have been eating dessert almost every night since I have been invited here, there and everywhere and I want to continue to fit into my clothes. While we’re sipping our chocolate, the news is informing us of continued sun, warm temperatures and possibilities of thunderstorms everywhere else but here. After coffee is done, I load the dishwasher and sweep the floors and finally it is time to join my two Tantine’s and Tonton for the Young and the Restless in French. It is a ritual that I have shared with them, for over a decade now and I get a kick out of it because here in France the soap opera is about two years late, so I know what happened and how it pans out in the larger picture of the whole soap opera scenario. I don’t spoil any of the cliff hangers for my family, but it makes watching the soap opera, almost a sociological study for me; I see how some stories seem to be written since the beginning with the intention of having long-term effects that reverberate through the entire cast of characters and then I see other story lines emerge with potential and with the gift of hindsight I see how they failed. From my perspective, as a “writer” just starting and learning, this is quite a learning experience for me. I also get a kick out of seeing my soap opera stars open their mouths and French come out in completely different voices. Melody Scott Thomas who plays Nikki Newman, has a high-pitched voice but her character in France has a low femme fatale voice, it’s like night and day. Victor who is played by Eric Braeden has a very similar voice in France. I wonder how they choose they voice over actors, if the depth and tone of the voice have anything to do with it at all.

Commercials in France occur three times during the show which is far better than every five minutes for us in the States, it was during one of these commercial breaks that I was stunned beyond belief. There was a commercial for Oreo cookies, in this country where they have fantastic cookies, I’m sorry but it is true, did they really  feel the need to import Oreo cookies? Oreo cookies taste like chemicals, if you have the good luck of having a Choco from the brand  Petit Prince, the cookie with its chocolate creme interior and really fine tasting cookie, you would never think of substituting the Choco for an Oreo. It saddens me to see MacDonald’s everywhere, the Kentucky Fried chicken franchise doesn’t do my heart any good either for that matter. I sat a little less straight in the bus when I saw a Subway franchise in Paris, France has their own version of what makes for an excellent sandwich, the ham and butter sandwich on a fresh baguette, Subway doesn’ t need to compete here, they have more than enough markets to fill in the United States. I am being selfish I know but I want France to keep her own personality, yes we might have become a global village, but can’t France be a bit more selective? Why import things that are doing such dietary harm to the Americans?

Everyone who reads my blog knows that I have a deep and abidong love for France, I have for the United States as well, which is why I am constantly protesting political choices that I find counterproductive for us on my other blog, A Progressive’s Thoughts, it is just that in seven years since I have been here, too much has changed in terms of how much the American way has influenced the eating habits,  the working habits and a even a little of the social habits of the French. I love France the way she is, I can’t help it.