Tuesday, October 28, 2008

French Kissing and American Sandwiches

From French Fries to French Kissing I would say that whoever is in charge of PR for France is doing their job. The French are generally associated with nice things but why are they so lucky? Why is their culture associated both with fancy kissing and delicious potato dishes when officially speaking they did not invent either?

If you were get in a conversation with a French person about French Fries they would at some point chuckle and shake their heads saying, "I do not know why you call them French Fries when everyone knows they are from Belgium, bien sûr!". When it comes to French Kissing, which is another claim to fame that the French don't necessarily deserve, they are less likely to pass the credit along to the Belgians. Although if you push them to define a French Kiss they
are likely to say, "Je ne sais pas, kissing a French person?". In fact the French word for French Kissing is to "Rouler une pelle" which roughly translates to digging a hole in someone's mouth using your tongue as a shovel. Not very romantic sounding if you ask me.

Recently I discovered that the French are not always associated with beautiful and romantic things. The case in point being the so called Turkish Toilet. When traveling in Europe, especially by bus or car, you often run in to Turkish Toilets when you stop to fill up the gas tank and empty yours. It is essentially a porcelain hole in the ground with grips for your feet and occasionally toilet paper. You are expected, male or female, to drop your pants, hover over the hole and try to tell your bladder that this time it's ok to pee standing up. Sometimes you will find handle bars on the walls, these of course are for the foreigners who have not yet built up the thigh muscles to handle these toilettes.

Whilst traveling with a Belgian coworker last month we were giggling in a the ladies room of an Autogrill rest stop about the faces Americans make when the only stall available is the one with the Turkish Toilet. Nina, stopped me mid sentence and said, "Wait, what did you just call
that toilet?". I said, "A Turkish Toilet! Everyone knows that!". Nina laughs and laughs and says, "Mary, that is too funny. Do you know what we call them in Belgium? French Toilets?!"

So were the french just trying to pass the buck? Blame the Turks for this messy invention? It happens to the best of us.  For example, you can often find cafés in France selling something called a Sandwich Américain. This is not a turkey sandwich with miracle whip and iceburg lettuce on untoasted wonderbread. Oh no. It is a meat sandwich that is stuffed with French Fries and topped with mayonaise and/or ketchup. Has anyone EVER seen one of these sandwiches in the US? No. Were the French ashamed of this caloric nightmare? I think so. Thus they came up with the name Sandwich Américain. Genius.


Debi said...

Ahh Madame Mary...they have another name in Turkey - Oriental Toilets. It seems no one wants to claim them!

Ashley Bird said...

I love your blog, my husband and I are always checking to see if you have updated it as we love your commentary!

laura said...

In Le Nord, they have fillet americaine, and it's raw meat with some weird sauce. Definitely not American.