In Paris, there's a bakery on every corner offering buttery croissants, but residents are still slim enough to fit into elevators the size of coffins. What do the French know? This is the second of several posts on food and lifestyle in the city of lights. Read the first here.
Paris has supermarkets, and you can buy produce in them as in any U.S. store. But most people get their fruits and veggies from neighborhood open-air markets one or two days during the week year round.
These are not a few stalls of local farmers; we have our choice of hundreds of vendors. The variety far outstrips what you see in the local Monoprix or Franprix, and unlike most outdoor markets in the U.S., the prices are actually lower than the supermarkets.
Of course, just because it looks like a farmer's market doesn't mean it is; most of the produce comes from central distribution centers. (For a peek at these, check out the lovely movie, Paris, with Juliette Binoche.) Unless produce is labeled "AB" (for "agriculture bíologique" the equivalent to our "organic"), it is almost certainly raised with "traditional" methods.
But there's much to be said for how these markets put produce--traditional or not--within easy reach of people in all of Paris's neighborhoods. Whereas fruits and veggies are some of the priciest items on our grocery lists in the States, here we can fill our large sack for less than 13 Euros. Snack food items are much more expensive in France relative to these healthy options. (For a point of comparison, watch Food, Inc, which gets inside the U.S. diet.)
So there it is: veggies cheaper than sweets. One more Paris secret.
U.S. cities (especially the NYs and Chicagos), what would it take to get an affordable outdoor market for your residents?
From American university to Paris university--it's not a seamless transition. But it is exciting, and my new students have me all revved up to find new ways to make English relevant.
I'm working on a thematic curriculum for our 12 weeks together that will let us explore "Other Americas" through articles and novel excerpts. Some students I've talked to here see the U.S. as one big Hollywood Blvd; I'll introduce them to issues and experiences related to Latino, LGBT, Black, Asian, and Native American communities. We'll also talk about what it means to be disabled or mentally ill in the U.S.--and how these experiences compare to what they know from France.
I've just posted a list of resources to jump-start English explorations outside the classroom. This list is geared toward adult English language learners, and it's purpose is to help them discover authentic reading material in English that will make vocabulary-building natural. Here's the English Artifact Weekly Assignment that goes with it, for those who are curious. Basically, each week, instead of assigning them a particular reading, I charge students with choosing their own English reading material and bringing back "proof" (their artifact) of the experience along with a reflection that will help them consolidate the learning.
Bonus: students at different levels can find materials appropriate to their ability, thus avoiding frustration and boredom. And everyone gets to follow his or her interests. Yea for differentiation!
The idea for self-directed reading for language-learning came from following the blog Mis Musicuentos by a dynamic, motivated, and tired-of-the-status-quo Spanish teacher. Here's the post that got me thinking, "yeah, this would work for ELL learners of English, too."
In Paris, there's a bakery on every corner offering buttery croissants, but residents are still slim enough to fit into elevators the size of coffins. What do the French know? This is the first of several posts on food and lifestyle in the city of lights.
Among four health-related announcements required to be included in advertisements for salty/sweet junk foods, is the following:
"Pour votre santé, eviter de grignoter entre les repas." OR "For your health, avoid snacking between meals."
When I first read that, I thought I must have mistaken the meaning of "grignoter." After all, hadn't nutritionists been telling us in the U.S. to eat several smaller meals? What is a snack if not a small meal, right?
Well, I can tell you one thing: our "small" meals in the U.S. aren't doing us much good. In fact, I'm inclined to think that we eat bigger-than-French-sized meals plus snacks. But I digress.
So I was saying, snacks basically have a bad reputation here. Unless you're under the age of 10, you will get funny looks gnoshing in public at non-meal times. I've been using public transit in Paris for over a month, and I can count on one hand the number of times that I have seen people eating. Even in the halls of the university where I teach, there are no signs of the sugar/salt stimulants U.S. students rely on to get them through their courses.
For me, this seems to be the most powerful difference between the U.S. and Paris. In the U.S., wherever I am, at whatever time it may be, I encounter people who are eating, and I often think, "Hey, I'd like to be eating that, too." In France, by contrast, when it's not meal time, I just don't see food out. I used to be a has-it-been-two-hours-yet-so-I-can-eat person. Now I actually forget about food for stretches of four hours at a time.