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 From Ruth, out of lurk mode to talk about my favorite
subject (France), to Catherine, who is moving to France
for a year:
1) French people don't sit around eating foie gras all
the time.  :-)  It's too rich for them too.
2) French bread contains no fat.  It contains only
flour, water, yeast and salt.  If you can wrap your
mind around the white flour, you can eat plenty of
bread.  It's healthy and you've probably never in your
life eaten such good bread.
3) Most French families routinely eat healthy,
relatively lowfat food, albeit not vegetarian.  You're
way better off in a family than on vacation eating in
restaurants all the time.  Typical French meals are
what the health experts have been trying to get SAD
eaters to compromise with for years--the meat as a
decoration on the side, rather than the centerpiece of
the meal; lots of veggies; salad.  (By the way, the
salad usually comes at the END of the main course--it's
considered a "digestive".)  The cheese is often in lieu
of dessert.  Dessert is saved for special occasions.
And you don't have to eat a lot of it.  It's often
served with fruit.  Eat a small portion of cheese, and
eat the fruit.  Do taste the cheeses--they're
wonderful.  (Said wistfully by a lactose-intolerant
4) French people walk a lot more than we do.  If you
look at the streets of any French city, you'll see many
fewer overweight people.  They enjoy their food, but
they walk it off.  When I spent a year in France, I
LOST weight.  Same when I spent a summer in France.
5) If you're going to live with these folks for a year,
you'd better say something about your preferences.
Yes, you will need to make compromises.  I would avoid
sweeping pronouncements and use tempering phrases such
as "in general" and "I usually prefer."  If you eat VLF
for medical reasons, by all means call on those
reasons.  But you will need to indicate you willingness
to bend your usual rules.
6) Culturally, there are two important things to
remember: a) the French have raised cooking and eating
to a high art.  They really do know what they are doing
in terms of making food taste good.  It is best to
appreciate what they do--they will feel spurned and
hurt if you don't.  Rather like coming to the US and
saying that democracy isn't all it's cracked up to be;
and b) unless specifically invited, you never never
never enter the kitchen of a French woman.  It's her
turf.  If there are other people your age in the
family, take your lead from them--if they help in the
kitchen, offer.  If they don't, you don't either.  So
offering to help by preparing certain dishes is
probably not a solution, as it might be in an American
home.  This is something you can resolve by openly
discussing cultural differences.  ("At home it's
expected that we offer to help...I'd be happy to do
that here, if that's something you would like....")
7) Read "Cultural Misunderstandings" by Raymonde
Carroll.  Wonderful book that does a great job of
exploring the differences between French and American
8) Take me with you, will you?  My French is real
fluent!  :-)
Now I'll shut up again.  Back into hibernation.

Ruth C. Hoffman   ruthhoff@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Language Resources
138 Oak Street
Lake Zurich, IL 60047-1322
Tel: 847-726-1608
Fax: 847-726-1652
URL: http://www.language-resources.com

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking
new landscapes but in having new eyes."  --Marcel