There are a huge amount of clichés to do with the ‘slight’ cultural differences between the two countries concerning stuff like cheese, wine, snails, bread, croissants, etc., but I have tried to make the list a bit more different, about what first came to mind for me personally.
Bonsoir tout le monde!
France and Britain, two of my favourite countries ever. Neighbouring countries yet so very different, so one day I decided to compile a list of their differences. But where to start? Let’s say, the best thing in life, the most photographed thing in life, ie., FOOD. (&drink)
Some examples to start off with before The List…
So, let’s start with…
Coffees are always served with milk. My favourite British coffeey specialty (though I admit I have only come across it made by Grandma or an adorable tiny café in an adorable tiny town in Wales) is MILKY COFFEE.
And if you want an espresso, you ask for an espresso. Though no one drinks espressos in the UK. Apart from my Hungarian friend Andy. Who drinks quadruple espressos (which he orders with “can I have a double espresso… and then another double espresso, in the same cup?”)
Despite having lived in France for two years, I still frequently forget that ‘un café‘ is not a mug or a decent-sized cup of the said liquid, but a tiny espresso. Tiny, quaint, tiny, pretty, tiny, often accompanied with a fancy-papered sugar, Speculoos-biscuit or, if you’re lucky, a little chocolate. But it’s tiny. And strong. And did I mention tiny.
During one morning coffee-moment, my friend Nicola and I resorted to buying cappuccinos in addition to our cafés. Now that looks more like it…
Or, at the other side of the spectrum, France basically does coffee in everything apart from mugs. They do bowls of coffee, for example.
And even glasses. When working at a school in France, I usually had a bowl of coffee for breakfast and a glass of coffee after lunch at the school canteen. In all fairness, we did come to the conclusion with the fellow assistants that the coffee was not MEANT to be drunk from glasses, but instead from the miniscule cups next to the glasses. But even many of the French teachers thought better not to touch these tiny ornate dishes and drink their black, sugarless coffee from glasses.
Ah, tea. The liquid gold, elixir of life that must run through the veins of every true Brit. I will not get into the debate about what kind of tea is the most perfect, though most Brits will agree with me that it must have milk (apart from my friend Hayzybobzykins… but she is special in many ways), and a decent amount will agree that it should have sugar.
French have tea. In some places. Most places nowadays I guess due to all this mondialisation. But if you want milk with your tea, don’t have your hopes too high up. If you’re lucky you may get a tiny blobule of condensed milk. But don’t dispair yet, since it could be worse: In Holland our condensed milky tea tasted of pizza. Hannah laughed at me for describing it like that, then tasted it herself and, to her complete surprise, she agreed. It tasted like oregon or origami or whatever the spice is you put on pizza. (So I had to google it. Oregano. Sorry lol.)
If the topic were vinegar, you could do pretty well in the UK buying a 75 cl bottle of vinegar from the local CK’s for £3.99. Except that confusingly the label claims to be wine, not vinegar.
For a tenner maybe you can get a relatively decent bottle (not that my financial situation has ever let me explore those posher paths).
Whereas in France…
Honestly, the bottles that cost less than a euro fifty may not be suited for the taste buds of the most pedantic wine connoisseurs, but if you go for anything above a few euros, the wine is pretty decent.
And since we’re on the wine topic…
A DAILY JUG OF WINE AT LUNCH AT WORK (at least if you are working at a school)
France= the norm
Britain= serious alcohol problem
(Well, if one wants to believe Gerard Depardieu, you can have the same example with 14 bottles of wine a day…)
This one is simple.
A croissant from a multipack from a local supermarket:
France:****½ Britain: ½
TRADITIONAL TABLE VIEW
Britain: Tea (Brits are so obsessed with tea there is even a meal named after it…)
France: Raclette (melted cheesy goodness)
Britain = er… raw meat
France = gourmet steak tartare
à la Mr Bean…
The first time I had raw meat was my first day with my French au pair family when I came to lunch after a bout of homesickness (crying on the phone to my mumsie in my bathroom). The raw meat did not improve my teary anti-France sentiments. Since then I have come to understand that it can be nice-tasting… but still too weird for me.
So refreshing, so tropical. Ah.
No wait, wrong Oasis
The French Oasis is my absolute favourite non-milky drink ever.
And extra points for the adorable fruits in their ads and their PUNS yes the French do puns as well! Their slogan is “Be fruit”, ‘fruit’ in French is pronounced very close to the ‘free’ in English… Yes, amazing. :”’))
Drinkwise, unfortunately Britain tries to trick you with its less delicious version.
French Oasis: ***** British Oasis: **½
(Though this one is by far personal opinion, I admit.)
(Wonderwall is pretty good though.)
CHICKENY GOODNESS SANDWICH
Britain:Chicken&stuffing sandwich. Scrumptious. Btw, if stuffing is especially scrumptious can you just say ‘scruffing’?
France: Poulet rôti. Literally means roasted chicken. But can be understood as chicken baguette. So unbelieveably good considering its… plainness. You can never be bored of lunches in France if you have this. Though once or twice they have understood my ‘poulet‘ as ‘thon‘ (tuna). Luckily I’m not fussy.
PERFECTION IN CONSUMABLE FORM
“It looks like someones ashes,” – Chris. I get your point, but still. SO GOOD. SO SO SO SO taste-bud smashingly gorgeously flavoured OREO COOKIE MILKSHAKE.
Tiramisu is not French, true. But SPECULOOS TIRAMISU is. Ahhhhhh death in a cup if you are ready to die of amazingness!!!!!
PERFECTION IN CONSUMABLE FORM (TRADITIONAL EDITION)
It took me a while to learn to accept their plainness, but scones are proof that plain on the outside does not mean plain on the inside… And when you get to know them, they stay with you forever… and ever… and ever…. till you die happily drowning in their goodness.
Yes, yes, a cliché. But what creates a cliché? A truth.
Whatever the question, Nutella crepe is the answer.
Et c’est tout.
That’s it. No, not really, but I have to stop somewhere. Thank you for joining me on this foody adventure 🙂
What would you add to the list?
Bizzzz (the equivalent of xxxxxxxxxxx in French)