Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't try to mimic the locals

I always find it amusing when foriegners try to be 'local'. That is they try to mimic the dress, mannerisms and customs of the local populance. This happens a lot with ex-pats who come to France seeking to 'blend into the coutryside' and 'be like the French'. Now I think its great for we foriegners to try and fit into the local society. Obviously we should dress and act appropriately and we certainly should respect the local customs. 

No, its the mimicing part and the part where things get carried too far that amuses me. Lets face it if I live to be a hundred I'll never be French. I might fake it with non-French people, but a French person will spot me as a phony instantly. ( when I travelled a lot I used to play a game as I sat around various airports. Spot the nationality! I got to almost a 90% success rate at doing it without even hearing the person in question speak. Shoes were the best giveaway.) Somehow we never quite get it just right no matter how hard we try.  Does it matter? No, I don't think so. Most French people find foriegners fascinating; if you speak passable French so much the better otherwise trying out their English is fun too.

Where is this heading? Well, I have in mind a recent example to do with cooking. An American blogger of note recently did a piece on trying to make Aligot. Nothing much wrong with that except.... hardly anybody makes their own Aligot any more. (Aligot by the way is a local dish from the Auverne consisting of mashed potatoes, garlic, milk butter and , here's the key, a special cheese made only in the region) Its the very devil to make as its hard to get exactly the right cheese outside (unfortunately, this person didn't.) a very limited area (unfortunately this person lives in the wrong area to get the cheese) and, here's the really hard part, the seemingly endless stirring is very hard work. So much so that its considered a man's job. I've seen it made by our locals for a 'repas' and even took a turn at stirring, but it really is hard work.

So what everybody, almost, does is to buy their Aligot at market where there will normally be a specialist Aligot maker selling the stuff. Either that or the local will only have Aligot when out to a restaurant. Or if really desperate you can actually buy Aligot at the supermarket to heat up when you get home.

Well, unfortunanetly this person's Aligot failed. She could having been much more native if she's just gone out & bought some. (Although I'm not sure they sell it at market in her part of France)This person, however, is determined to be LOCAL!! Unfornately she usually just misses the boat    or the cheese in this case.

Or & here's a 'local' tip. You can turn a 'failed' Aligot into a " Truffade" by adding a few lardons, flattening it into a thick pancake & frying it in a bit of pork fat. 

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