By Bénédicte Mahé

Aubrey EisenwinterWhen Americans travel to France, they obviously want to do some sightseeing and encounter old majestic monuments, beautiful landscapes, quaint little towns… Let’s be honest, at least 50 percent of the trip will be dedicated to French food: café au lait with croissants and pains au chocolat, coq au vin, tartare or croque-monsieur, cheeses, pâtés, baguette, crème brûlée, tarte au citron or éclair au café… The Frenchier sounding the better. But a lot of French people do travel to America and for them food is part of the trip as well. I never truly wondered about it, so what do French people [looks forward to] eating when they are in the United States?

While I cannot speak for all the French people (I mean, I am one opinion among many others—yes, this was inspired by Lena Dunham), I know exactly what I want to eat when I visit friends and family in the U.S. However, my first encounter with American food did not start with a bang: I went to New York City in April 2001 with my mum and got sick because I found the food much too processed and industrial. When I lived in Wisconsin for a year, because I was living with a host family and had access to a kitchen, my relationship with American food changed. I was really afraid to put on weight so I was extra careful as to what I was eating. But now, I only go there for a few weeks at a time and prefer to indulge a little bit. Therefore, I always have a list of food items ready (not in any particular order), and clearly I do not go there to eat healthy (except for the smoothies):

1. Burgers (homemade, Red Robin…): this is for me the quintessence of American food. I generally never eat burgers anywhere but in the US.

2. Lay’s Barbecue Chips. I don’t know why, they just taste better in America.

3. Culver’s: Midwest is best! (ButterBurger, vanilla shake…)

4. Mexican food: so much better than the food in France.

5. Chinese food: because there is always a fortune cookie given at the end.

6. Chicken pot pie: my host mum makes a super delicious one.

7. Some cookie dough ice cream and/or maple syrup ice cream.

8. A large unsweetened iced tea from Dunkin’ Donuts (if it’s summer)—concerning beverages, I do not like sodas so I generally get water (and try to remember to order it without ice).

9. Green smoothies.

10. An American apple pie (my host grandma makes an incredible one—bonus if it is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

11. Brownie à la mode (just for you to know though, in France, à la mode does not mean anything food-wise).

12. Almost anything with bacon.

13. Corn (we do not really eat it the way Americans do).

14. Homemade lemonade.

I also like to make cookies or apple crumble at my host family’s house, which is kind of a tradition, because they have an amazing kitchen, tons of ingredients and I love to cook for them.

Does this list sound peculiar to you (I may have missed a few favorites)? Obviously, once I have eaten one of the items of this list, I do not eat it again and I generally switch to various salads with no dressing (not because I am on a diet but because I don’t like the taste). This summer, an American friend of mine made a salad with spinach, blueberries, grated Swiss cheese and crushed pecans: so yummy!

But tell us more, what do you look forward to eating while you are in France? What is your favorite “American” food? Do not hesitate to share!

Acknowledgements: Alyssa Noel, student of French and Italian, and Journalism at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and English editor for A Woman’s Paris.

Bénédicte Mahé photo - cropped DuplicateBénédicte Mahé has studied abroad many times, speaks four languages and earned a Master of Management of cultural goods and activities, as well as a Master’s degree in intercultural communications and cooperation. She works in communication and international projects management. Among her interests are drinking tea, cooking (with or without success), reading, traveling, and—of course—shopping. She started her blog Tribulations Bretonnes in 2010 and has been updating it (more or less regularly) since then.

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