Today, we visited Carrefour, a supermarket that originated in Annecy, and grew to be the second largest supermarket chain in Europe (Walmart is #1). They took us through a nice presentation of the history of the company, then we were set loose in the store to explore the unique and foreign offerings. Among several interesting finds, including several types of pâté, ready-to-fill escargot shells, canned escargot, crêpe cakes, and various other things, we stumbled across an aisle called “produits du monde,” translated to “products of the world.” Of course, this isn’t unusual; most grocery stores have a world section, but in this store, there seemed to be an English/US section. Apparently, “ethnic” American foods are: peanut butter, marshmallows (claimed to be the “original american treat”), popcorn (although it was Newman’s Own- not even Pop Secret or Orville’s), canned corn, baked beans, caesar dressing, French’s mustard, Campbell’s soup, and kettle chips. Who knew those products were distinctly American! Interesting to see how another country views your own country’s culture.
Also, another day in class, our professor made sure to emphasize that the refillable CamelBak/ other types of reusable plastic bottles are, as she says, “très Américain.” Apparently, it is difficult to find and buy these water bottles in France, and our professor always knows when students are American because of the signature Nalgene/CamelBak bottle. I then decided to keep my reusable bottle in my backpack in hopes of disguising my blatant American-ness. (It didn’t work, she still knew I was American). But interesting things- I would have never given second thought to a product that seems to commonplace in the US, which just goes to show (and as our professor loves to tell us) you can’t really understand your own culture until you are removed from it. C’est vrai!