Small, medium, large, or American; the trials and tribulations of eating in France

Apparently being an American in France means eating until your heart’s content… and then eating some more. This was pointed out to me yesterday while I was indulging in a ginger and vanilla ice cream cone in a little  glacier in Montpellier. There, one could order a variety of ice cream flavors and the sizes were as follows: small, medium, large OR American. I had a good laugh at that, but upon reflection I’ve realized my daily intake hasn’t been exactly modest since arriving in France.

Without a strict routine in place I’ve had a lot of time to think about, search for, and devour a multitude of different French foods. Stocked in my kitchen at all times are a variety of cheeses, breads and wines. Kiddie corner from my house is a boulangerie that sells freshly baked baguettes, croissants, et du pain chocolate bien sûr. Just a few blocks further lies my favorite patisserie, L’epi d’or, which makes insanely good cookies, macarons, apple tarts, chocolate mousses, breads, sandwiches (etc etc etc…). Along the canal there are a ton restaurants and bakeries, and  there is even a whole shop devoted to the classic French fave, the madeleine, which is a small sponge cake distinctly shaped like a shell. What’s more there is café upon café where it is possible to sit and people watch for hours whilst sipping a cafe au lait. Needless to say I’ve been in fat kid heaven.

However, fat kid heaven turned into fat kid hell yesterday. Something sort of snapped in me after eating my umpteenth sandwich avec jambon, fromage, et beurre (ham, cheese, and butter) and I found myself on the verge of a mental break down in the local grocery store when I couldn’t find a jar of peanut butter anywhere. It may seem strange that I’ve formerly described all the amazing eats in my town and here I am complaining that I can’t find peanut butter. But upon asking a clerk at Monoprix, I was directed to a wall of different kinds of honey, Nutella, jams, and speculoos (a sort of gingery cookie spread), which were simply not going to satiate this wild American craving I was having. I struck out at the largest grocery store in town and I left empty handed. I was like the French in Dien Bien Phu–defeated.

To put things in perspective for those of you who have never shared a kitchen with me, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple meal for me…a breakfast, lunch, or dinner favorite. I really really love them. Sure I’ll cook, but when in doubt……get the PBnJ out. I can’t even really say that I subsist on this treat because that connotes eating to live. My relationship with peanut butter and jelly is so much more than that, I really thrive on them. Seriously, I do.

But fear not my friends, I am not dying of starvation here AND the universe always provides. The most exciting and uplifting part of today occurred when I tried my luck on another grocery store. Et voilà I found a few small jars of Skippy peanut butter…not the preferred crunchy-oily-natural peanut butter heaven I’m accustomed to, and it was a heart breaking 6 euros for half a container, but good lord did I do a happy dance. I may have been a bit over zealous, and freaked out the clerk who was helping me… Nonetheless, I bought two half jars (you know, two halves make a whole) just in case there is some kind of zombie apocalypse and all of the peanut butter in the south of France is high in demand… though this is not likely seeing as the French do not have a palate for peanut butter, but I’m not taking any chances.

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3 thoughts on “Small, medium, large, or American; the trials and tribulations of eating in France

  1. Peg Vasko says:

    I’m in the process of packing a care package for you today, and natural peanut butter is high on my list of got-2-get 4 Liz$$. Do not fear the pb&j zombies in France, my dear. Mother will save the day. Once you get my gift, please take those jars of peanut flavored, hydrogenated vegetable oil outside to a tree for the squirrels to feast upon. You will make this Mom and Jimmy Carter very happy, indeed. xoxoxo

  2. Madeline says:

    great post! but do they have cabot or b and j’s?

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