Friday, 6 June 2008

lamenting France's colonial past.

For over four months now I have been drinking the nasty, black & bitter muck that the French call coffee. Well, actually they call it cafe. With an up accent on the e. I drink it, but only because it's the cheapest thing you can buy here, and even though I rail against paying the same price for an awful espresso as I would for a good latte at home, it's still better than spending twice as much for a (perfectly decent) lipton teabag, or even more for chocolate powder mixed with long life milk.

(As an aside, I seriously do. not. get. what is is with the French and the long life milk. They take so much pride in their cheese, yet they drink the most awful boxed milk. My housemates think I'm totally 'bizarre' for forking out for actual fresh milk. [And for freezing bread, but that's another story] AND YET any cafe will still charge you an extra 20c for a smaller dash of said milk in your expresso than the coin you're paying with. Seriously. It smells and tastes like baby spew.)

Apparently the former French colonies grow coffee beans, but of the cheap and nasty variety, and having maintained economic links, that's what the French import. (Having maintained trade links however, has not dragged France into the 21st century socially. Today brought yet another example of the rascism here: my French teacher was encouraging class members to sit next to someone of a different mother tongue to them. She scolded the two Asian girls in the class for sitting next to each other, and upon being told that one was Taiwanese and one was Korean she asked why they didn't want to 'mix with the Europeans' [she presumably meant 'Europeans' like me, and the 60% American class]. And this from a highly educated professional who spends all day every day working with international students. Mon dieu!)

But I digress. So the coffee here is bad, bad, bad. I was never a big coffee drinker at home, but like so many other things, I didn't realise I valued it until it wasn't there anymore. (Sometimes it feels like this whole trip is just an exercise in appreciating Australia more!)

So today I went on a pilgrimage to The Best Coffee in Paris.

I took the scenic route to get there - through the annual St Germain brocant, where I saw single pages of medieval manuscripts selling for thousands of euros, a tiny stall with tens of tiny bottles hanging from the ceiling, each with a single pink flower, and a set of antique marionettes. I walked past a number of lovely shoe shops, down a little street filled with tiny Parisien brasseries with dark wooden beams, offering 3 course meals for 15 euros, and along a road with numerous creperies, to finally arrive at yet another god-awful coffee.

Seriously, if this is what Paris has to offer, I'm really hanging out for England. And when you say that about food/drink, you've really got to worry! (Ok, I don't really think that French food is all that it's cracked up to be, nor that English food is as bad as it's reputation, but it is true that one of my French teachers laughed her head off when I told her that Jamie Oliver, an Englishman, was the most famous chef in the world). I would've been better off at the Starbucks up the street.

On the upside when I ordered my coffee, the baristas complimented me on my (H&M, H&M, always H&M) dress and powers of accessorising. Real French people complimented me WHILE I was wearing red and green. Not grey. Major achievement making the whole journey worthwhile.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Aww. Hope this helps?