Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Big Bread Theory

My friend recently reminded me about a conversation her husband had with my husband, Fred, when her family was visiting us in Paris. Her husband asked Fred what the French thought about Americans. Fred said that French think Americans have big bread. With all the history between the two countries and the stereotypes flung about by their people, I found his answer original (as did my friends, hence the subject's reprise).

Perhaps Fred was serious, or being funny, or searching for something neutral to say as not to come across as “the arrogant Frenchman”. I could ask him, but the idea that he could have been serious makes me laugh so hard that I prefer ignorant bliss. The truth is the French do seem to have bread envy, although I’m not sure why given the shape of a baguette.

Even Fred likes to use big ol' American bread for his sandwich making. That's Mount Rushmore on the bag. The problem is the bread won’t fit into the French sandwich bags, nor do the king-sized slices fit into my French toaster. I have to rotate the bread mid-way through to make sure the half-inch towering out gets grilled.

In fact, everything large in France is "American" - the American refrigerator, the American washing machine, etc. – and French people love them. So the next time you hear a French person say that Americans are big, you should consider that they aren't being rude or making an insulting generalization, they're delivering a compliment.


michael said...

only you could tie in "bread envy" and the shape of a baguette. LOLOL

Touring in Brittany said...

They're even jealous !!!

tom said...

this theory is much easier to "swallow" than the big bang theory,lol

jonnifer said...

Here's an interesting article that includes the history of Harry's bread:

French, yes, but oh so American.

Amy75 said...

Jonnifer, the link wouldn't work for some reason :( I'll try and google it. Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

That bread always made me laugh when i saw it in Monoprix!
Love your blog, I lived in Paris for two years,2002/2004....I really wish that this whole blogging thing was something that I knew about then, so I could have chronicled our lives there.
My oldest daughter, fell in love with a French guy a month before we were to move back to the States, San Francisco bay area. We moved back in July and then she eloped and went back to Paris to marry Pierre. She was only 19!
They moved back to San Francisco so that she could finish college, which she finally will in a couple of weeks.
After this coming Christmas, she will possibly move back to Europe, as her degree is in fashion design.

Sorry to ramble on here, I just thought it was fun to read your blog, and to laugh at some of the French things :)

Funny story about the bread thing in France. When I was living there, I read an article in the International Hearald Tribune, about how it took an American to go into Paris, and re-teach the French, how to make baguettes again, since they had been cutting corners. Wish I could remember the American bakers name.

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Great story. I just stumbled upon your blog after deciding to hit the "next blog" button after I'd posted on mine. Sweet serendipity as I love what you have to blog about.

Expat Women said...

Hi Amy,

Regina here, for

I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory ( so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!


Street Gist said...

I enjoyed reading this and just like PinkPatentMaryJanes, i only hit the next button to see this and I read a nice one... cheers

Adam said...

When I was living in Spain, the 'American' bread was also bigger there. It was also very sweet, but as a Brit who has never crossed the Atlantic I don't know if real American bread is actually sweet...