“If your head sticks up just a little, they cut it off.”

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with RecipesLunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

An American woman falls in love with a Frenchman and moves to Paris. Some great recipes (the chocolate souffle is really easy and pretty tasty, and I’m trying the tagine at the first opportunity) and some interesting observations on French life from an American perspective, as in:

She wonders how her soon-to-be mother-in-law stays so slim. Answer: The French eat at the table, not on the couch, they don’t snack, they cook just enough for one serving per person, and they don’t go back for seconds even if there are leftovers.

Her fiance is reluctant to pursue a career in film because they just don’t do things that way in France. “You will never understand,” says Gwendal [the fiance]. “You come from a place where everything is possible.” Later, he adds, If you want to do something different, if your head sticks up just a little, they cut it off. It’s been like that since the Revolution. You know the saying, Liberte, egalite, fraternite. Egalite, equality, is right in the middle. Everyone has got to be the same.”

Encouraged by Bard, he goes to LA and takes meetings and comes home full of enthusiasm, which he then shares over dinner with a French couple. Who are startled and alarmed at his presumption, and whom they never see socially again.

On her mother’s attempt to buy a pate pan in which to make cheesecake. In the States, a salesperson would sell you his left foot if you wanted it, and probably gift-wrap it to boot, writes Bard, but the French salesman says, “This is for pate, madame, not gateau…Why do you want to buy somesing when you do not know what it is for?”…In France, the customer isn’t always right. On the contrary, the customer is often deeply wrong, and the person behind the counter will not hesitate to tell you so.

There is an eye-opening passage on living through 9/11 overseas, too.

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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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