Monday, December 13, 2010

The French Do Not Understand Burritos, Consumer Culture

There are silly things I miss about America. It's true that I'm separated from a lot of people that I love by the Atlantic Ocean, but that falls under the category of Important Things. I mean ridiculous things-- things I should never complain about because being in France is amazing and worth it, but I can't help it. Things I miss with a longing ache deep in my expatriate soul. 
The silly things include bagels (No really. They don't have them anywhere. I've checked.), warm weather in Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, microwavable popcorn, black beans, and Mexican food in general. In fact, to give you an idea of how pathetic the state of Mexican food is here in France, I give you the French interpretation of a "burrito:"

What. Is. This.
This is a stale tortilla, wrapped around taco meat. There is nothing else inside. On the right there are salad greens (?) and barbecue-flavored potato chips with canned guacamole plopped on top. On the left, more taco meat with canned sour cream, in a bowl, and rice pilaf with canned salsa. This is a sad, sad state of affairs. 
Another thing I miss is Starbucks. I know, I know: I am such a product of my culture, an empty, mindless consumer, etc. I'd be way more ashamed of wanting Starbucks in the midst of all this excellent French coffee, but damn it, I really want a tall vanilla latte with soy milk. The desire is ever-present, always lurking... it only increased tenfold when someone from America informed me that there are now red cups in stock! Beautiful holiday cups of warm, delicious caffeine, sweetened with vanilla, topped with whipped cream, smelling of cinnamon... sigh.  So finally, I went to and researched if there were any in my area, already picturing reading my Mark Twain novel on a plush couch, pumpkin bread in hand. And do you know what I discovered?
There two Starbucks in the entirety of the city of Lyon. Just two. TWO. As in, the second largest urban center in France, a city of 480,660 inhabitants (thank you, Wikipedia!), and for all those people, there is ONE Starbucks for every 240,330 people to go to, if they so choose.

I am really not in Kansas anymore.

I am also hunting down a Starbucks and going there tomorrow, ASAP, to fulfill my pumpkin and vanilla flavored dreams. 

[editor's note: om nom.]


  1. I'm luring you back to California with promises of guacomole and comida mexicana.

  2. You've probably already figured this out, but the frozen-food place Picard sells bagels... & they are actually not half bad. Toast one, slap some St. Moret cheese on there & enjoy! Might even make you feel less bitter about the fact that France forces you to spend half your monthly salary on a good-but-somehow-not-exactly-how-I-remembered vanilla latte @ Starbucks!