When I checked out my blog stats yesterday, I was pretty surprised to find that my month-long hiatus didn't cut off any traffic. In fact, there were just as many readers as ever, mostly reading really old posts. I guess I'll have to leave this blog up for a while, so people looking for in-depth info on what expat life in Burkina is really like will still have something to read.
Not that France isn't exotic in it's own way. The natives are kind of odd and have strange ways. Here too is fertile turf for the anthropological researcher.
For example, my quest to blend in as a French housewife (participant-observer is a classic research technique) nearly came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago. My über-French mother-in-law had come for a visit six days after we arrived in France. I had invited her down, as I feel that she has spent the last nine years unfairly deprived of her charming grandchildren. She is very kind, in a brusque sort of way, and we get along really well, but she has definite ideas about how things should be done. I know that is in the nature of the creature that is the MIL, but still...
One afternoon, she asked me what I'd be making for dinner. I hadn't been to to the market lately, so it took a minute or two to come up with an idea.
"Cauliflower, I guess. And pasta..."
"Pasta?!" "With CAULIFLOWER?! exclaimed the French MIL in exactly the same tone of voice that she'd have used if I'd said that I was going to serve the cauliflower that night with a sidedish of poison, while wearing my underpants on my head.
Now, in my younger, newly-wedded days, I would have backed down in an instant, begging her to reveal the "real" way to serve cauliflower. But I am older now and less inclined to let people make me think I'm an idiot. I just looked at her.
"You would do that, you? Serve cauliflower and pasta??!!!!" She was looking sort of pale and panicky. This was obviously a big deal.
"What's the problem? What would you serve with it?" I asked, just because I didn't want her to have a heart attack right there in my kitchen.
"Well, I don't know. But not PASTA!!" She said "pasta" just like a non-French person would have said "snot". srsly.
Now, I'll admit that pasta would not have been my first choice. It would sort of make a very bland, monotone color scheme on our plates. But Yvette obviously found something far more sinister in the combination of foods proposed. It was just not "how things are done" or "comment il faut faire les choses" in France.
There's all kinds of moments like that here. There you are confidently cruising along in life, thinking you have it all figured out. Then suddenly you find someone staring at you, jaw dropped by your "shockingly bizarre" un-French behavior.
Despite my French passport, I still feel like a foreigner in many ways. And iIm guessing I'll never really "blend"- I'll always have a funny accent, be five inches taller than most other women here and have crazy ideas about what can and can't be eaten together...