While in France, I had some mishaps that could only be defined as French Foolery. Some of these came about because of a language barrier, ignorance, and just mistakes. Below are a few instances of my French Foolery.
Croque Monsieur… sans fromage???
Depicted below is a croque monsieur, a traditional quick French dish originating in French cafes. It is a fried or boiled ham and cheese sandwich. This dish particularly is known for the melted cheese on top. For those that don’t know: I dislike cheese. Not knowing what this was, I tried to order a croque monsieur sans fromage (which is French for “without cheese”). Let’s just say the waiter looked at me very confused until I asked him to come back later. Eventually I ordered a steak frites (steak and fries); still a classic dish.
Everyone’s favorite dish to dread is escargot (snails). I am a picky eater, but when in Rome—or in this case, when in France—I decided to try them. Despite the mollusks slimy appearance and texture, escargot when prepared in a garlic-herb butter sauce tastes like a seafood dish. Below is how the dish was served to us.
Now to the right of the dish in the top corner is a utensil to hold the shell in order to get the meat from inside the shell using a small two-pronged fork. Everything was fine until I got to this one particular escargot that refused to come out…
I spent minutes scraping inside the shell trying to get the succulent meat trapped inside the calcium carbonate shell. To no avail, I could not free the contents from its rigid structure. I put my all into this one last attempt (after asking my friend if I could slurp the escargot out and he looked at me with much disdain so I went back to prodding and poking with my fork). I locked the escargot into the tongs and ZOOM! The escar-go! launches towards my friend and onto the floor still trapped in its shell. We both agreed at that point, that it was time for me to quit and move on.
There’s No Such Thing as a Free Water…
Surprisingly this event and the two before it all happened at the same cafe and within minutes of each other… so you can tell that my first French cafe experience didn’t go so smoothly. Anyway, onto the next story.
So my friend orders wine and after the confusion of figuring out what I wanted to order, I just ordered a water. Water is a classic go to for people who don’t really know what they want to drink. This is where I screwed up.
It was a 750ml glass bottle of Evian water that cost 4.80 Euros (equivalent to $5.50) that was not even chilled (I think I mentioned in another post that Europe has this weird thing about ice where they don’t give you any). I was just expecting a nice glass of water. It could have been from the tap or from the river Seine for all I cared, but it had to be the most expensive water in a glass bottle. For the same price, I could have gotten something better like juice or something.
After leaving the cafe, that is when I realized I had to get the idea for French Foolery and see how many more cases of French Foolery I could partake in. The stories continue below…
Bonjour! Oui. Oui. Merci! Au Revoir!
We went to a traditional French open market in Versailles in order to try to immerse ourselves further into the French culture. The French market was just like a farmers market in the States, except everything was in French and everyone was walking around with a baguette. Acquiring a baguette is how this story starts.
So in order to maximize time, my friend told me to pick out two wines while he goes to get the baguettes and we will meet up together later to head back to the bus. Whilst picking out the wines, I went up to the counter and this is how the conversation went:
Cashier: *something in French*
Cashier: *smiles and says something else in French*
Me: *hands him the money*
Cashier: *asks a question in French*
Cashier: *hands me a bag for the wine* Merci! Au revoir!
Me: Merci! Au revoir!
And that is how I somehow managed to buy something in French with only three words. It isn’t as hard as you think!
This French Foolery was not on me, but on a group of friends that went to a French cafe with us. After my experience at the first cafe, I made sure that it would not go the same way again; however, that left the French Foolery to fall onto someone else until it somehow made its way back to me.
My friend, the wine connoisseur, orders a Bordeaux full-body red wine for the table. This was to get everyone a glass of wine to get a traditional French experience. When the wine hit the table, only 3 of us liked it and the other 3 weren’t fans. That is when we called the waiter over so they could order Fanta in order to chase the wine. At the end of the meal, no one wanted to finish their wine, but we didn’t want it to go to waste; so we chugged the rest of theirs and ran to our bus (we were going to be late if we stayed any longer). Running through Montmartre slightly fuzzy from wine was a great experience nonetheless.
This concludes the French Foolery segment and I hope you enjoy! I will have more posts about all of France later!
See you next time!