One kebab to go, please.

Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 09, 2010

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Friday, February 19, 2010

When one thinks of traditional french food, we often think of fine wine, cheeses, 5 course meals and a lot of baguette and bread. Sure, there is the occasional person who will pipe up with "escargot", or "fois gras"-- and all of these are very true. I've had more wine than I have ever had in my life here so far and I've only been here 3 weeks. However, theres another food that nobody really has ever mentioned to me as being so popular here-- kebabs. 

Now, maybe its just Angers (I doubt it), but Kebab places are everywhere. Americans are known throughout the world as being fat, and eating at an abundance of fast food places and drinking a huge coke to wash down their Big Mac or Whopper. Now, we all know that this is partially true, and partially not. I don't know many people who have fast food more than once a week-- both for saving money and trying to be somewhat healthy. But the stereotype still does exist. Little did I know, that the french eat kebabs like we Americans supposedly eat at McDonald's every night. 

As previously stated, they are everywhere. On Rue Bressigny (a popular spot for students to go and grab a quick bite during the 1 hour lunch time), there are at least 6 kebab joints in the small stretch of the street that I walk everyday. Granted, there are other places that one can go, but it really is convenient. For 5 Euro, you get a kebab, which is pretty big, a pretty good sized helping of fries, a drink and an ice cream. Your food normally comes within 5 minutes, and you have plenty of time to socialize with friends and get a good sized meal in your system and get back for your next class. Now, while not the healthiest option, its cheap and efficient. I personally like going to La Pyramide, as the owner is really nice and he seems to know us by now. The other day he gave us all mint tea (delicious, may I add) after we had finished with our kebabs, and he helped Spenser with her french homework. 

Now, this may be a semi-pointless blog since there isn't really anything too exciting in it, but I just thought it was interesting. It may be an entirely Angevin thing, but I doubt it. So next time (if this ever happens to you), a french man or woman mocks you for your love of American fast food, bring up kebabs. 

Also, other random things to mention in this blog:

1. The french smoke-- a lot. Granted, Americans do too, but to me it seems that they smoke more so here than in the U.S. Maybe its just that everyone smokes in public places, like at the bus stop, at restaurants, in front of bars, but it seems to be a commonality in most french people, especially with women. Dr. Borgstrom once told me that smoking was a part of the meal and that after they had finished eating, many french men and women will like up, even just to take a few drags off of a cigarette-- just for the purpose of completing the meal. 
2. Not really my traditional something I learned section, but I've been going out to the bar lately called "Le Soft". It's where our french friends like to hang out the most, so we often go there to meet up with them. I really do enjoy it there. The atmosphere is nice, its laid back, relatively cheap and the bar tender is pretty wonderful. The other night, we talked for quite a while and she now knows me by name and I know her by name. The other night, I ordered 4 beers as I was one a beer run for people, and she gave me a free one. It's pretty cool whenever you find a place like that, yeah?
3. Everyone, for the most part, that I met that studies here through CIDEF (that isn't Asian) is from the south of the U.S. Theres a group from Michigan here but I never really see them. EVERY time I meet a new American person, they are from somewhere south. To quote Ashley, I want to hug the next person I meet from the north. I love all of my friends from the south, but come on! We need to represent, north!
4. A few french drinking terms, since they will always be useful:
- Beer: Bière
- Drunk: ivre, bourré (very familiar-- use this in a bar-- (boor-ray))
- Hangover: gueule de bois 
- Cul sec: Chug, kind of. Mean's like bottoms up! Drink it all at once.
5. Also, scarves are very prominent in french culture. Everyone wears them. 
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robert on

im sorry but you are wrong in everything you state. I live in France. Im Irish by the way. America is the fattest country in the world. France has one of the thinest populations in the first world. You cannot compare america to france. its like comparing a morbidly obese dying pug dog to a perfectly health labradore.
Secondly Quick is a the French equivalent of Mcdonalds and is far healthier and offer way smaller portions.
Thirdly kebabs are way better for you then mcdonalds ever will be. Kebabs are made from prime meat cuts, usually unprocessed and Hallal, meaning that it is ok for islamic people to eat it. You cannot compare the tripe that is in america to the food served up in Europe.

jrank2889 on

I think you misunderstood what this blog was about. I was not insinuating that kebabs were extremely unhealthy for you like American fastfood is. I understand that American fast food is really bad for you. Now, I live in the U.S. and like I stated I don't think that I know anyone who eats fast food more than once a week here and most of my friends aren't obese. I did not mean to insinuate that your country was unhealthy in eating and I love the food that is served here. I was just responding to all of my friends comments asking me if I eat out at gourmet restaurants every night and I was stating that I don't and that I actually eat at kebob places for lunch more frequently than I thought I would.
Secondly, I didn't offend the French people at all and I don't appreciate you attacking me personally on my blog. Thanks for your input, I'll revise my statements that I wrote here but there was no need to compare Americans to a dying, obese dog. Most of my friends are active and healthy.

Mandy Todd on

I get irked at the automatic assumption non-Americans frequently make that all Americans are grossly obese, completely inactive, and complete idiots, knowing and caring nothing about anything outside our own borders. Making sweeping generalizations and assumptions as you did, Robert, is just as close-minded as Americans are accused of being. I had numerous conversations with French folks who were convinced that because I was from South Carolina, I must live in a plantation house like in Gone With the Wind and routinely saw cowboys riding their horses around. Both of these things couldn't have been farther from the truth. The America that gets portrayed in movies and TV shows is sometimes accurate in its portrayals (both negative and positive), but it Americans are a much more diverse crowd that I think much of the world realizes through their limited exposure through American media exports. I'd also hardly liken the French to a healthy Labrador...between the constant smoking (which I truly believe cannot be denied) and increasing intake of fast food (which is happening more an more among French/European youth), I think France/Europe will be facing similar problems with obesity in the coming decades unless something changes with the younger generations.

It's pretty clear that the blogger is impressed with the quality and accessibility of healthy food in France. I think he's spot on in the statement that if sodas and unhealthy food were expensive, while healthy, unprocessed foods were cheaper, we'd see a big difference in the dietary habits of Americans of all economic levels. Currently, I think it's a huge problem that it is cheaper to buy junk food and crappy fast food than it is to buy organic, unprocessed fresh food. However, I think this is something that is changing generationally in America.

So far, the author has been very complimentary to the French and to the citizens of Angers, expressing a desire to understand French culture, history and daily life at a much deeper level than most tourists visiting a foreign country ever intend to do. My experiences with the same host family in Angers had much the same effect on me, and I am still grateful to the Brangeons over a decade later, for allowing me to experience
Angers through the window of their family.

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