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Monday, April 18, 2005

Culture Clash Over A Piece Of Foil And Some Spaghetti

So this weekend I was fortunate enough to witness an international incident as some are calling it. It all started when Diane, Meredith, Danielle and I decided to go have dinner at a pizza place not far from Danielle and mine’s apartment. We’ve eaten there several times already and the owner/waiter recognizes us when we come in and has always been very friendly with us. However, things are forever changed now and this is why. Things started off as normal, the owner/waiter was very excited to see us and talk to us. We ate our meals and enjoyed them very much. However, Diane had lots of left over spaghetti. Not wanting to waste it she asks for a box to take it home. The waiter then informs her that this is just not done in France and that yes he allowed Danielle to do it once but he can’t let this happen every time because it’s just not done in France. Diane and Danielle insist on wanting to take it home and finally he brings it out wrapped up in foil. At this point he is no longer talking to us and barely looks at us. We have to get up to ask for the check and when he comes over to give it to us he barely speaks to us. He then decides to tell Danielle in French that we just can’t keep asking to take stuff home in France to which Danielle responds with “it’s my right to take it home as I paid for it.” At this the waiter says that is disputable and Danielle responds with saying “well next time we will go to another restaurant.” He says fine and that is the end of all communication with him. So now because of a piece of foil, some left over spaghetti, and stubbornness, Danielle and I can no longer go to our pizza restaurant with the excellent 4 cheese pizza.

Yes I know we should have been more “culturally sensitive” and respected the fact that in France you don’t ask to take your left overs home. But it still seems absolutely ridiculous to us that they 1) would rather throw it out then let us take home what we paid for (especially in a country so big on not wasting food) 2) lose repeating customers over something as small as that 3) be that stubborn about such a small aspect of their culture. If you ask me I think this is just a perfect example of how terrified the French are that Americans are influencing their culture as well as how darn stubborn they can be, not to mention contradictory. For a country that thrives off of tourism I say it’s time to face the facts that you are going to have to flex some and stop being so scared that American culture is going to take over your country. We don’t want to take over, we just want you to learn to be more logical ;)


Anonymous said...

Well.......I guess I should live
in France. I really dont like "doggie" bags
Personally I totally agree with the French especially at a nice place I just think it looks cheap!!!!
I also do not like the way it smells in my car. I think taking food home is a habit with alot of people. I think you should get a half portion or share a meal.

Daniella said...

i apologize for now not being able to go to that restaurant but it was a matter of principle...i hate wasting we can go back to the other italian rest. with good pizza (even better pizza i think) with the old italian man who likes group dates...a place where they give us doggie-bags.

Anonymous said...

Well I do like Doggie Bags as I hate to waste food and I too think that once I pay for it, I should be able to take it home.

NOW - I do like to share food too and that is my preference, but many restaurants dont want you to do that either, as it cuts into their profits by selling two people one dinner.

So - do you want to provide "doggie bags", OR do you want to sell only half as much food ? Probably neither.

Aunt Senette

Diane said...

I still feel bad that spaghetti caused such a problem. Maybe if I had felt better I could have eaten more of the massive mound of spaghetti but it just wasn't in the cards. As for the French/Egyptian man and his restaurant I plan on paying him a visit when I go back. I will bring tupperware this time. Mental note when marketing styrafoam take aways do not bother with france. I agree with Kristine, the french have a convenient logic in that they have different principles when it suites them. I still find the french amusing.