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  • Writer's pictureCoco

The typical "American Male"

If you have been to France before AND you are a guy AND you are American, then there is a very good chance that either you did not like breakfast in France and you complained about it each and every morning that you were there, or you think that the French breakfast has “finally improved” since last time you were there.

The reason why the French breakfast has “finally improved” is probably because of you and many others like you! I would remove “finally” from the sentence and change “improved” to “changed”.

The traditional breakfast consisting exclusively of fresh baguette, butter, home-made jam, pound cake, pear cake, or marble cake, croissants and other viennoiseries can be found less and less in touristic areas. Hotels had to replace some of the traditional goodies or add many choices such as ham, bacon, and other pork products, eggs cooked in many ways, waffles, etc. in order to “accommodate the typical American male” (sic).

The Brits have never really complained about the French traditional breakfast, knowing well that it is part of the French culture and accepting it as is with beautiful British humor. After all, if the French can eat soft boiled eggs, cold toast, and grapefruit for breakfast in England, the British can eat fresh baguette, sweet butter, and jam in France. It is part of traveling. It is part of the cultural immersion.

Then the “American male” (sic) demanded the same breakfast as back in the US, and that is when hotels in touristic areas in France had to adapt and remove some of the charm from the typical French breakfast.

When I prepare my students for their next trip to France, I can never emphasize enough the importance of the cultural immersion. I urge them to try as hard as they can not to complain about the differences in traditions, rather, to accept them, to embrace them, and to live the same way as the locals do.

When you go to Japan, enjoy the sushi and do not look for burgers. When you go to Morocco, enjoy the couscous. When you go to Spain, enjoy the paella… and do not expect to have dinner at 5 o’clock!

Always try to be open minded, accepting, and unprejudiced. How would you feel if a tourist from India came to your neck of the woods, looked at your pancakes and eggs and, after shouting, “Rubbish!”, demanded upma with rice cakes and lentil crackers? What would your reaction be?

I planned a trip to Tahiti last year, and I was so looking forward to eating all the fresh fish served with vanilla bean-infused coconut milk, fresh fruit, fresh herbs. I had a lot of that, and I loved it! Tuna with fresh mango, salmon with fresh papaya wrapped in a banana tree leaf, shrimp cocktail with watermelon, grilled octopus with fresh pineapple and fresh mint. Looking at the menu, I was surprised to see the selection of hamburgers and cheeseburgers, though. I asked the oh so friendly and charming staff. You guessed it! They had to please the American crowd. “Yes, they [the American crowd] will try a fish dish here and there, but they always go back to the burger.”, they said. Can you believe it? Spending money to go to French Polynesia to have … burgers? Might it be even worse than going to France to have bacon and eggs for breakfast?

You may never have thought of it this way, but now you do! And hopefully, you will not complain or dictate what should be on the menu next time you travel to a foreign destination. Relax, enjoy your vacation, the people, the food, the customs! You will be happier. Most of all, you will leave a positive impression, and you will start painting the picture of a pleasant (instead of “typical”) “American male”! No offense on my part to the “American male”! I love you, guys!!!


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