“Man can not live by bread alone … he must have peanut butter.” – Bill Cosby
“I mostly eat peanut butter sandwiches. Peanut butter and banana, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and potato chips, peanut butter and olives, and peanut butter and marshmallow goo. So sue me, I like peanut butter.” – Janet Evanovich
“Peanut butter is the paté of childhood.” – Florence Fabricant
I’ve heard a lot of people say that the French hate Americans. Before I moved to France, a few people asked me, “You sure you want to move there? They hate us in France.”
After I moved here, a couple of people asked about me when talking with my relatives, or mutual friends. “What’s she doing over there? Doesn’t she know that French people hate Americans?”
I’m happy to tell you that this is complete bullshit. These are the concerns of the gullible, the ignorant & those who have never set foot on European soil. I’ve been here for 6 years & haven’t encountered any serious anti-Americanism. (Sure, France has it’s own set of gullible & ignorant fear mongers, but that’s another story.)
No, French people in general don’t have a collective hatred for Americans. If you don’t know, they rather like us, even if we leave them shaking their heads from time to time. Many of them do, however, share a strong disdain for something that we Americans hold dear. Something that is part of our… Americanness. For many of us, a taste from our childhood.
What they have is anti-peanut butterism. Yes. It’s a thing. A very real thing.
Before we were married, when I was still living in Colorado, Olivier & I would engage in lengthy debates on the phone or via email about which is better: peanut butter, or Nutella. I don’t get the connection, but many French people will scrunch up their face, or grimace at the mention of peanut butter. Then they will often respond with something like, “I prefer Nutella”.
Sure, Nutella is good, but it’s chocolatey-hazelenut cream. As far as the taste & consistancy goes, it has jack shit to do with peanut butter.
It took a while, but Olivier came around. One day I made him a toasted peanut butter & jelly sandwich. He nodded his head as he chewed, looked down at the gooey deliciousness in his hand & he saw that it was good.
Then he said, “I still prefer Nutella.”
It’s been a few years & occasionally, he’ll make himself a PB & J for breakfast & each time, I smugly bask in my successful conversion. While there are a few French people who have tried peanut butter & liked it, their numbers are few. Successful conversions are rare.
We almost always have some peanut butter in the house. He eats it on his own, yet he still tells me, “I prefer Nutella”. Each time, my response is the same: I take a deep breath & say, “IT HAS FUCK ALL TO DO WITH GODDAMN NUTELLA.”
Or something like that. But, hey… whatever. At least he came around. We still eat Nutella on crêpes. It all evens out.
I’ve heard countless complaints from Americans living in France that peanut butter doesn’t exist here. That’s just more bullshit. There’s peanut butter all over the fucking place. When we were living in Paris, I often found it at the grocery store. The problem was, I usually only found very small jars of nasty-ass Skippy for about 5 Euros a pop. Yeah… a small jar of peanut butter in Paris was between $7 – $8. Lame, right?
Later, I found bigger jars for 1-2 Euros each from a British food supplier. I had never heard of the brand before, but it tasted better than Skippy.
Then we made an even better discovery in a Chinese grocery store: big-ass jars of African peanut butter for 1 Euro. The best part: it was that natural kind of peanut butter that separates so you get the oil pool on the top. I thought to myself, “Of course they have plenty of it at the Chinese market. Duh.” It makes sense. I use peanut butter for cooking Thai food more than anything else.
So, to recap: 1) Most French people hate peanut butter, but like Americans. 2) Americans who claim France has no peanut butter are either full of shit, or haven’t looked in more than one place. This is likely an indication that they have bigger problems than a lack of peanut butter.
I’ve heard Olivier telling other French people of what he’s learned. “It’s not bad,” he says. “A little bit on toast with some jam. It’s pretty good.”
They’ll shake their heads & say things like: “It has too much fat. It isn’t good for you.” Ok, sure… there’s some fat in peanut butter. But this is France, where everything is drowning in butter & foie gras is a food group. I’m not buying it. It is good for you, if you don’t eat several jars at a time.
I’ve also heard reasons like, “It’s dirty” & “It looks too much like vomit” or “It’s too sweet”. Um… I have to point out that if your peanut butter is sweeter than Nutella, something is wrong with it. If anything, peanut butter should be a bit on the salty side.
When we tell the peanut butter haters that we get peanut butter from Africa (not the U.S.) & make Thai food with it, the response is, “That’s not the same. That’s beurre de cacahuètes. It’s different.” Look, smooshed peanuts by any other name are still smooshed peanuts.
One thing I’ve noticed & which has been pointed out on this website as well is the fact that there’s a shit load of peanut-flavored snacks available at the grocery store here in France. Peanuts are served for apéritif quite often. So, to clarify: they don’t hate peanuts, or the deliciousness of artificial peanutty flavoring, just peanut butter.
Yeah, I don’t get it, either. But, when I was little, I used to eat peanut butter & butter sandwiches. I’m thinking I might be able to sell them on this. If I slather enough butter on it… & serve it with a glass of wine & a side of foie gras.