There will be a Top Ten Things Americans Do Not Do Well coming, but the French one is coming first. Sorry Frenchies!
10. Cookies – they’re too rich. Too much butter, not enough sugar. Cookies are American for a reason. If we don’t get a sugar high from them and aren’t able to stuff our face with them for as long as we damn well please, then they’re not really cookies. Sad, but true story.
9. Cupcakes – While the Dexter cupcake found in Paris essentially made my summer, the cupcake itself was “meh”. I’ve discovered that the French are generally incredibly confused by the cupcake, so in their confusion and the fact that most of them have never had a real one (visit Love at First Bite in Berkeley or One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn if you want a REAL one) they just fuck it up. Common mistake made by the French is that they focus on the cake. It’s not about the cake. It’s all about the frosting. If you fail on the frosting, the whole cupcake is useless. Again, pay attention to the sugar, not the savory. Seriously, go to Love at First Bite or One Girl Cookies and I promise you, you will understand the cupcake and we Americans won’t seem AS crazy as you originally thought.
8. The Cocktail – while Paris has proven to be the exception (thank you Experimental Cocktail Club and Candelaria) the French, in general, fail at the cocktail. They charge too much, and they pour too light. If you’re charging me 10-12 euros for a mixed drink, it better be brilliant. Usually, it’s not. I could write a whole thesis on the French race’s aversion to mixing things and America’s ability to appreciate a mixed version of anything, but I’ll save you the tirade. All I will say is that if more of France had bars like The Experimental Cocktail Club, they might start to understand our crazy cocktail culture and (gasp!) actually appreciate it.
7. Mani pedis – they are seemingly non existent here. In NYC getting a mani pedi is like a weekend ritual. Some are even offered with cocktails (0f course). Apparently paying for someone to pamper your hands and feet is not seen as a necessary luxury by the French, but we Americans, especially us big city girls, love it. In fact, you’ll be judged in NYC if your toes are not well kept. It’s a sign of basic hygiene. But apparently the French don’t care. How surprising.
6. Hamburgers – show me a great hamburger in France and I will show you 10 better ones in the States. They just don’t get it. Or perhaps they don’t respect it. The burger in the States is cherished and if you can make the best one around, you will be in business for years. In France, a burger is something you could eat, but why would you when they do everything else so well? In my experience, getting a burger in France is essentially pointless unless it’s a fancy burger, in which case, that just defeats the whole point. Burgers should be greasy and delicious, not fancy and delicate. Go to In and Out or Nations and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.
5. Television – this might not be something to be horribly proud of, but we Americans make good television. We’re also obsessed with television, which does not quite sell us as the most cultured of people. But damnit, I don’t care, we make good TV, and everyone knows it.
4. Sushi – this isn’t entirely their fault, but it’s still a mark against them in the American view of things. Sushi has become and remains a staple food option in the majority of the States and not being able to find a good sushi place can send an American into an outright pathetic panic, myself included. Of course most French cities offer an expensive option, but that expensive option is our normal offering and we pay a lot less. So if you think you’ve had good sushi in France I suggest you go to NYC, California, or Hawaii and try some and then tell me if the French really understand the quality they should be having for the amount of euros that they’re paying.
3. Asian food, in general – according to the French all Asian food is the same. You won’t find a Thai restaurant or a Chinese restaurant or a Vietnamese restaurant, you will simply find “Asian” restaurants which make any and all dishes on the most mediocre level. Want General Tso chicken? Too bad, that’s too specific. How about sauteed noodles, they can do that. Want coconut curry chicken? Too bad, way too specific, how about some basic fried rice? I know there are exceptions to this rule as I found a really good Vietnamese (and affordable) place in Lyon when I lived there, but for the most part, if you have a craving while living in France that can’t be defined as just general “Asian” (since it’s just one big place, right?) then you’re shit out of luck.
2. Gyms – perhaps they don’t need them, perhaps it’s a luxury here, but either way, the French do not do gyms. After exploring Paris for a decent gym, I found a small handful of mediocre gyms for 190+ euro PER MONTH. This outrageous price, combined with the unbelievably old equipment and subpar standards of workout facilities make it clear that the French do not respect the gym or the workout. Why would they? They go for savory, not sweet – much less calories to burn off. And if you’re a naturally slim breed and like it that way, you don’t really need to build muscle. Why would you? Skinny and weak is considered much more attractive and the gym would only upset that delusional little balance.
1. Customer Service – sorry guys, we Americans do it better. On a general level it’s just fine here in France, but if you have any kind of a problem like needing to return something or you have a few extra questions before purchasing something they look at you like you’ve asked them to traffic some high grade cocaine through their store. It would be quite funny to watch if it weren’t so annoying.
Don’t worry France, I love you. The anti-American list will be coming soon. But at this point you know I don’t play favorites.