Friday, 28 March 2008

La Trash de Trailer

Since moving into a trailer, when people ask where I live, I say, “Ee-in the tray-ler park!” in a really good Southern accent. “Vat?” “Ee-in the TRAY-ler park!” I reply. There is no laugh, no smile, nothing. “Ahm TRAY-ler TRAY-ash now,” I like to tell people. There’s a couple of other Americans around here, and they get the joke. They’ve even started to call me “Kristale” (with a K!) as a way to take part in the joke. (We all decided that this was the trashiest name we could come up with – especially with the “e” at the end.)

So I’ve tried to explain the connotations of “trailer trash” to the French people around here so that they get my joke. But even more importantly, I’m realizing that they are probably missing out on all the references to trailer trash in the movies and on television. Since France doesn’t really have too many of its own movies – pretty much every movie I’ve see here in France is American, after all – it’s important that their understanding of the subtleties of American cinema aren’t lost on them. And there might be a trailer park reference that they won’t get – like in “8 Mile”, for example. Understanding the true depth and profundity of Eminem’s suffering and his subsequent meteoric surge of fame rests on an understanding that he’s trailer trash, after all. From what I can tell, I bet most of France probably didn’t get “8 Mile”.

When I try to explain “trailer trash” to the French, in French, it goes something like this (loosely translated): “You know how some peoples are poor?” “Oui.” “You know like the really poor peoples who are always dirty and beat their kids?” “Oui.” “You know the peoples who sit in plastic chairs and drink cheap beer? And have bad haircuts with the short hairs in the front and the long ones in the back?” “Euhhh, d’accord.” “OK! These sorts of peoples live in really small houses in the parks. The houses are on wheels. Sometimes they are destroyed in Tornados.” “Oui.” “So we make jokes about these peoples! It’s really fun!” “I see.” “Yeah, so now I live in a trailer, so the joke is that I’m pretending to be one of these ignorant poor people! Get it?”

I realized finally how best to explain trailer trash to the French when I took a ride to the grocery store with my German friend. We drove by a big field filled with trailers! I exclaimed, “Oooh! What’s that? Who are THEY?” My German friend explained, “Those are the gypsies. You should be careful – they steal things sometimes.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


Last night, I convinced a friend that if he would drive me to the grocery store, I’d buy him McDonald’s for dinner. As residents of a Buddhist centRE with cows and horses for neighboUrs and floating dust particles in a shrine room for entertainment, we find things like “aisles of products” and “parking lots” extremely exciting and novel. Needless to say, this was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Personally, I was excited to go to McDonald’s because it’s always nice to feel really American once in a while. It’s great to sit back, eat a Big Mac, and feel culturally superior to all the people around you. Yes, it might be a “French” Fry, but we all know that it only tastes good when it’s fried in American grease.

Now when I go into a McDonald’s, I am happy to say that I don’t even have to LOOK at the menu to know what I’m going to order. But since the French are EXTREMELY slow – even in fast food restaurants – my friend and I were stuck waiting in line for close to ten minutes while one man ordered a burger and fries. To pass the time, I decided to check out the menu and see how badly they adulterated the purity of the American menu items in the name of French accessibility.

“Milkshake” was still “milkshake” (although the woman behind the counter didn’t understand what I was saying until I called it a “meee-lk sheek”). “Quarter Pounder” is “Royale”, as we all know from watching “Pulp Fiction”. Everything was pretty much the same… But then the horror:

“Croque McDo”.

“CROQUE McDO”??? What the hell is that supposed to be? I know from my French Beginners Level 1 book in seventh grade that McDonald’s is “McDo” (pronounced “Mc Dough”) with the French youth. I also know from that very same textbook that “un croque monsieur” is some sort of eggy-bacon thingy. Its poorly illustrated, indecipherable mess of squiggles was always depicted right next to the “croque madame” which differed from the “croque monsieur” in some way that I can not be bothered to remember.

But a “Croque McDo”? This abomination on everything America stands for is pictured on the menu right next to such staples as the Big Mac, the Royale, the McNuggets, and their new acknowledgment of health-issues, the McSalade.

The irony is that I still have no idea what a “croque” is supposed to be – the picture on the wall did nothing to clarify this mystery. Eggy, bready, who knows. All I know is that this is NOT what our founding fathers had in mind when they conceived of our American liberties. As far as I am concerned, this is a total “croque” of shit.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

A horse is a horse of course of course - until he's my DINNER!

That’s right folks! I did the nasty (see blog post from February 16). I ate horsemeat.

Last night, some friends and I were out in the big city – Limoges, of course – and we went to a place called “Le Pub” which means “Pub” which means “Bar”. I ordered a “Burger Classic” which basically means “Classic Burger” if you translate it from French (which I can do!). It was a hamburger with French Fries and Cole Slaw on the side.

But my friend across from me? Did she go with the sane, cow-meat burger? NO! She ordered the “Burger de cheval” which means “Horse Burger”. The fact that it’s not the default “Burger” should already be troubling – the fact that its meat variety needed to be clarified in the first place is just upsetting.

Does the fact that she’s Swiss (from Switzerland – a small country near Europe) excuse her? I’m not sure. Does the fact that she speaks fluent German AND French excuse her? Assuredly not – I initially thought that speaking too many languages led to lots of problems, like mixing up words and stuff, words like “horse” and “cow”. But this does not seem to be true.

Anyway, when her burger arrived, I was startled to note that while I think horses are significantly cuter than the shit-stained, fly-covered cows when I view them from the safe distance of my car driving by occasionally, when they’re killed and slapped between two halves of a hamburger bun, they look a lot like regular meat. In fact, there’s no indication, when a horse takes the form of a hamburger, that it’s actually the same as the cutesy horse-y creatures that I liked to draw pictures of when I was a kid. If you secretly switched my cow-burger with my friend’s horse-burger, I probably wouldn’t even notice!

With this in mind, and my discovery that no matter how cute the animal is in real life, on my plate it looks like other meat (I made this discovery with bunny-wunnies a few years ago), I decided to do the cultural thing and taste it! Turns out, the meat was pretty dry and overcooked. Just like my burger!

I’m pleased to now announce to you, my readers, that shittily-overcooked meat, no matter what animal it originates from, tastes bad. Even if the animal killed to provide you with that meal was really cute or awesome or hardworking or beloved by a child, it can still be made to taste like a tire.