There are so many things that France does right. The wine, the food & the healthcare. The 35-hour work week & the apéritif.
Some things about living in France have just been too easy to get used to. The fact that in France, bad grammar is a worse offense than profanity just makes me feel at home. I can no longer sit down to a meal without a glass of red wine, or go without an espresso after lunch – especially when lunch can often be around 2 hours long.
So many things about life in France are – yeah, I’ll say it – better than that in the United States. But, you already knew that, right? It’s hardly a secret. People here have longer life lines for a reason.
That’s not to say that I don’t ever have a few complaints. Believe me… I do. (You knew that was coming, right?)
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of homesickness, or missing something from home that I can’t get in France… like an Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar. Yes, it sucks that France has no Arby’s, but I’ve learned to live with it. I have bigger problems with France than their painful lack of delicious roast beef.
I’ve already mentioned my problem with my now nonexistent personal space, so I won’t bitch about it again. (For now.) While the concept of customer service is really just a fading memory for me, I’m learning to live with the fact that in France, the customer is not always right & that the person I’m dealing with across the counter doesn’t give a shit about my happiness.
I do, however, have a problem with breakfast that I can’t seem to get over. I’m sure you’re already aware that a French breakfast is really nothing more than some bread with some type of condiment & a beverage. Maybe a croissant, some toast, or a stale chunk of baguette left over from yesterday’s 2-hour lunch. Slap a cold slab of butter on it, grab a cup of coffee & voilà! Breakfast.
My problem is, I prefer a bit more cholesterol to start my day, as opposed to a wad of dough & a cup of coffee. I mean, come on… these are things that I like to have WITH my breakfast, not FOR my breakfast.
But… I’ve learned to live with it. I can make a real breakfast at home & whenever we visit other countries that start their day with more than a piece of bread, I indulge in a breakfast binge.
While some people judge a country based on its politics, its history or its scenery, I judge a country based on its cuisine – more specifically, its breakfast food. In fact, whenever Olivier & I plan a trip outside of France, I get excited about breakfast. If it’s a place I’ve been to before, then I get myself all worked up about what I’m going to eat to start each day, preparing myself for gluttony.
If we’re headed to a country that is new to me, then I’m asking questions about what the locals eat for their morning meal. Recently, while chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Iceland, I learned all about the different kinds of fish Icelanders eat & all of the different ways that they eat it. Of course, my response was, “Yeah, but… what do they eat for breakfast?”
Sometimes, Olivier will entertain me with stories of countries I have not yet been to. The problem is, when I try to listen, I seem to have a case of tunnel vision.
“Just wait until we go to South Africa,” he said. “We’ll go see all of the wildlife: the elephants, the lions and the –”
“Yeah, yeah… that all sounds very interesting. What do they eat for breakfast?”
“Actually, they eat an actual meal, sort of like in the States.”
“Is there meat?”
“Um… yeah, there’s meat.”
“Okay,” I said. “We must go there. When can we go? Do you have any vacation time coming up?”
Yeah… it’s pretty much an obsession. I admit that I may have a problem.
During our honeymoon in Ireland, in between pints of Guinness & sight-seeing, I was busy getting myself worked up about the enormous plates of eggs, potatoes, bacon & soda bread. Yeah, yeah… there were some big cliffs, relics… some sheep, yadda, yadda, yadda. More importantly, there was this:
In spite of the fact I’ve already stated that I believe Copenhagen to be the best place on Earth – which it is, goddamnit – I did find their breakfast to be lacking. However, they made up for it with one thing: the kanel giffel, which is Danish for a cinnamon croissant. Yep, it’s basically a cinnamon roll. Cinnamon seems to be a somewhat under-used spice for pastries in France. I’ve never seen any type of cinnamon pastry here. If you know where I can find a cinnamony pastry in France, give me a heads up, would you?
Because a cinnamon roll & some coffee… I might be able to start the day with that without pissing & moaning.
It’s like they thought of everything: meat, cheese, cereal, egg, bread, fruit & veggies… coffee & juice. Whenever we indulged in a typical German breakfast, I felt as though Olivier & I were each diving into our own little breakfast buffet.
There are a few other places that have served up a decent breakfast & I’m definitely nowhere near the end of my quest for the perfect morning meal. Some places are better than others & really, as long as I can have something other than a piece of bread, I’m probably not going to complain too much.
Probably. I mean, as long as I’m not hungover because if you have a hangover in France, you can forget finding in healing in a greasy McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. I tried that once after a night of celebrating with a bit too much champagne. It was the second time in 5 years that I had stepped foot into a McDonald’s in France. On the breakfast menu, there wasn’t much more than… yes, a croissant & shitty fast food coffee.
And yes, those French croissants are delicious & the best you will find anywhere – as long as they don’t come from a crappy fast food joint - but most mornings, I’d prefer to sit in some unknown greasy spoon with Formica table tops & surly waitresses, listening to the locals chatter over the sound of bacon frying.
When it comes to breakfast, I’m afraid that there’s just no place like home.