Sunday, May 23, 2010


France is a country in Western Europe, a nuclear power, and permanent member of the UN Security Council. It is home to several millions of Frenchmen, several millions of Frenchwomen, and several trillions of Frenchtourists.

When entering France, you are typically greeted by distressed villagers waving white flags and surrendering. Only after you insist you are not capable of founding the Sixth Republic do they allow you to pass through and spend your hard earned money trying to buy train tickets to destinations which are inaccessible due to train strikes.

I'm totally kidding; we all know France never surrenders to anybody, unless not surrendering would involve working longer than 30 hours a week.1 The illusion of weak Frenchmen is really a myth perpetrated by Belgium, as they try and make some other country look sissier than them.

When the French aren't working,2 they are known to insult non-French-speaking tourists by giving them wedgies and/or spraying them down with bidets. While wearing berets, of course.

I'd like to take this moment to encourage you to keep that image in your minds, as I find it hilarious, but realize that image is false.

First, French people are pretty nice. I happen to have traveled all over that country, hopping from city to city, desperately trying to find running trains,3 and every single person I talked to, without fail, was amazingly kind. They spoke English to me as much as they could, they were accommodating, they didn't whisper and laugh at me, they were the kindest group of people I've ever dealt with. In honor of that kindness, I have decided to insult them throughout this post, but please know, I have absolutely no reason to do so. The French are awesome. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Second, I did not see a single beret in France. The only person I've ever seen wear a beret was, um, well, a stripper named Candy.4

The French got dealt a rough hand. They grew up in a rough neighborhood, with pretty gnarly foreign powers super close by. Not only did they have a superpower rival next door for most of their history, they also don't really have any natural plant life that would yield itself to good cuisine. Mexicans have burrito trees, Indians have curry, but the French are left with a countryside full of nothing but snails, duck livers, and nutella.

Instead of giving up and deciding to commit culinary suicide by frying everything to an untimely death coughthebritishcough, they perfected the art of escargot.

Many people have asked what exactly is escargot, and I think the only appropriate response lies in one of my favorite jokes (courtesy of my good friend and brother Jeremiah):

A snail went to a car dealership, and decided to purchase a car. He told the dealer, however, that he would like the car slightly modified before delivery: he wanted a big S painted on the hood, the doors, and the roof of the car. The dealer said that was all well and good, and could be accommodated, but he asked why the snail wanted this. The snail replied, "so whenever I drive down the street, people will stop and say, 'look at that S car go!'"

For this joke, and this joke alone, I ate escargot, and it was delicious. I ate Foie Gras, and it was delicious. I ate nutella-covered crepes, and those were delicious. They say the French are good cooks, and they are absolutely correct. Bless them and their snails.5

1. I've always felt like France gets a bad rap for that whole WWII surrender thing. I'm pretty certain that if my home state of Utah were invaded by Blitzkrieging Germans, it would surrender within forty five seconds. Well, the state would surrender, but I have several friends whose houses (house is a forgiving term; compound would likely be more accurate) would be completely impregnable, given the amount of armaments present therein.
2. That is, pretty much any time.
3. See comment about French people not working. Well, in fairness, there are plenty of people working in France. They just are not train conductors.
4. This is an entirely true story, but, lest you think ill of me, I met this woman when I worked at a bank. And she came in for change. Lots of dollar bills. As in, a thousand. I felt oddly immoral, knowing what I was sending those bills off to do. She gave me cash in exchange. Yes, cash. Can one puke from touching dirty bills? I washed and seared my hands after touching those. In fact, I'm going to go soak them in rubbing alcohol again, just for good measure.
5. Let me also take this time to recognize the beautiful French woman who cooked curry for me once. Thank you. It was amazing.

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