Once upon a time in 2010, I lived in Poitiers, France, as part of the ERASMUS exchange programme. It was a pretty defining year for me as I was struggling with depression and anxiety, a love/hate relationship with university mixed with a true desire to finally move out of the family home and make it on my own. So, on 2nd September, armed with my mum and aunt, I embarked on one of the most exciting and truly life-changing adventures of my life. I also kept a blog – more of a diary, really – whilst in France, which can be found here. (Please be kind; 19 year old me liked to ramble a lot).
My experience had an eclectic of highs and lows; I made a lot of new friends, had the opportunity to live in a country and amongst a culture that I adored and even had a French boyfriend for a while. The lows, however, were equally prevalent: I became increasingly anxious and isolated, struggled with the never ending bureaucracy of France and friendships definitely began to wane by the end. It was an experience that shaped the person who I am today and what I attribute my strength and diligence to.
Skip forward to now and my French has somewhat waned in proficiency, to the point that I am a bit reluctant to speak it with anyone, which obviously means my abilities reduce even further. I discovered a handy app called Duolingo that has allowed me to practice my French again, in private, and quite a lot of it has been flooding back and I’ve started having basic conversations again in a language you’d think I’d be totally fluent in since I’ve been learning it since I was about 9.
J and I were having a long conversation as food, as we often do, and our conversation turned to the food I had in France. I have to be honest and say that I did not encounter much “traditional” French cuisine, i.e. there were no frog’s legs in sight. Realistically, less than around 5% of the French population actually eat things like frog’s legs or snails, so I wasn’t missing out on much to be fair.
However, there was one food outlet I could rave about forever: Quick Burger. Sweet baby Jebus, their burgers were absolutely delicious. I remember having a Star Wars themed, blue cheese beef burger with Rustic fries and this delicious Rustic dipping sauce. They were both fairly priced and massive and I will forever be disappointed with British fast food cuisine.
I decided to show J their menu, which had zero veggie options at the time, and it included classics such as “Funny” tomatoes and carrots (what’s funny about them, exactly, is probably a heavily-guarded French secret); The “Quick n’ Toast” with its bizarre use of apostrophes; The “Cheesy Trio” cheese bite mix and, of course, the “Faim de Loup” menu.
For those not familiar with French, “Loup” is French for “wolf” and “faim” is hunger. “I am hungry” in French is “J’ai faim”, literally translating into “I have hunger”. Therefore, “J’ai une faim de loup” is “I am as hungry as a wolf!”
I really liked this menu entry as it does describe the shift in French language as it evolves with each generation. To use this phrase is “Improper” by French standards as it is jovial and relaxed in tone, much like language and tone use by young Francophones. As Brits we are used to seeing puns and jokes in menus, fast food and “serious” establishments alike, but in France there is still some rigidity in the way it labels and discusses some topics, particularly when it comes to their cuisine. Whilst I don’t expect to see any jokes appearing in the haute cuisine of certain Parisian postcodes, it’s encouraging to see the language changing to keep up with the multi-cultural, open-minded and progressive generation of young people in France.
Of course, this is further escalated by the removal of the circumflex and cedilla from French spellings, something which the older generation and the French Academy obviously abhor. That, however, is for another time.
A slightly different style of entry, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. Have any of you lived, studied or worked abroad? Like, comment and subscribe.