Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Christmas in July Loot

Deck the halls, we’re having a Christmas party!

In case it isn’t clear, most of the loot stuff I get is things I actually ordered myself and have sent to friends and family for them to bring me or ship me all at once so that I don’t have to pay individually for each item.

Beyond the fun of getting all things I know I want, another enjoyable element of loot is the surprise stuff. Best of all those are the edible surprises*. Here’s what I got in my recent haul:

 

Loot 2014 food

  • 3 Skor bars
  • 2 2-packs of Hostess chocolate cupcakes
  • 2 4-packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • 2 bags of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1 box amped apple / lightning lemon Sour Nerds
  • 1 box Fierce Cinnamon Hot Tamales
  • 1 whopping pile of taco seasoning

Items which are left as of this writing

  • 1 whopping pile of taco seasoning minus one packet

I am not ashamed. Hell, the Nerds didn’t even last the trip home from the post office. The rest of the stuff didn’t even have a chance.

 

* Food is the best gift. You don’t have to keep it. If you don’t like it you can give it away. Sometimes it’s delicious. No one’s offended if they come by your house years later and don’t see it on display.


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Portandia Loot

A friend of mine from college gives the best hugs I’ve ever gotten and is also one of the few people who can consistently give me gifts I like. This is the care package he sent from Portland, Oregon over the holidays (the furthest any love has ever travelled to get to me).

Portandia Loot
Contents

plain Cheerios
Hostess cupcakes
2 marbled composition notebooks

I am not at all ashamed to admit that not one of the eight cupcakes lasted longer than 24 hours in my presence. I felt so sick afterwards, but it was totally worth it and I’d do it again.


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London Loot 2: It Came From Under the Thames!

A Cadbury sampler that looked like this recently made its way into my hands all the way from London.

Cadbury Snowman sampler

I was really excited because all of these chocolates have featured in at least one British story I’ve read, like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole or the “Bridget Jones” books and I’ve always been mildly curious about what fictional characters fixate on. (General tip: Don’t read the most recent Bridget Jones — it’s dreadful.)

Anyway, with the exception of Easter-time Cadbury Creme Eggs, Cadbury hasn’t really made any impact on the US candy market and, after taking a bite of each of these things, I know why. America already has one crappy chocolate brand (Hershey’s) so they don’t need to import another one.

Crunchie: tastes like a Whopper (the malt ball, not the burger) but long instead of round. Decent but significantly loud.

Dairy Milk: very thin, totally boring regular milk chocolate bar. Comparable to Hershey’s in every (bad) way.

Caramel: the caramel itself was nice and appropriately gooey, but this Cadbury chocolate is just not worthy.

Crunchie: it certainly was. The chocolate surrounds a substance that looks like hard bath foam and tastes even less good.

Flake: this seems like a mistake invention like Teflon or Post-its. Unlike either of those two things, this needn’t exist.

Fudge: this almost gets a pass because I generally don’t like fudge.

Chocolate Buttons: nothing to recommend.

the noidIn conclusion: I don’t know what they’re all on about. Awarded this site’s lowest ranking, The Noid.


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Lookit! French Fazer mints!

We always had chocolate covered mint things like Andes Candies and Fazers at home when I was little. The Fazers, which I continue to call “Frazers,” loom larger in my memory so they must have been more infrequent and therefore more special.

Even though I don’t really like mint-flavored things and I’d rather not have any chocolate than have to eat dark, the nostalgic part of me craves these things sometimes and now, I have a replacement.

Learn Something

→ Fazers/Frazers are Finnish! I basically know nothing about Finland other than what’s in Monty Python’s “The Finland Song.” The Internet just told me that it used to be an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia. (This is crazy in the senses of being insane and amazing that I had no idea about this before.)

Anyway, a guy named Karl Fazer (Frazer) opened a café in Helsinki in 1891 and he and his wife started making their own chocolates a few years later.

→ Andes mints have nothing at all to do with South America and everything to do with a guy from Chicago called Andy Kanelos. He had a candy store in 1921 that made the chocolates, but since then, the brand has been owned by Interfood, Jacob Suchard, Brach’s and is now part of the Tootsie Roll family of candies which are the worst. Learning this has totally killed my affection for Andes.

 

 


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The Loot Came From London!

What’s the adjective for London? London-y? London-ish? Years ago, I would have been able to intuit this, or at least know how to find the info, but I am getting rusty. Talking to my best friend recently, I told him that I was not only having a hard time figuring out lots of words, I also wasn’t able to determine “good Google words” for them. Later in the conversation, I remembered that the phrase I should have used is “optimal search terms” and chastised him for letting my poor language skills slide.

Regardless, here’s some stuff I got from London when my family hopped the Channel, er la Manche, this summer.

London Loot

  • It’s Only A Movie, by Mark Kermode
  • The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex, by Mark Kermode
  • M&S Chocolate Mini Bites
  • M&S Chocolate Brownie Mini Bites

Kermode is the film critic for the BBC’s “flagship film programme,” the podcast of which is the highlight of my week. His latest book just came out, but I’ll be waiting for the paperback because I really dislike hardcovers. (For the record, they’re heavy, uncomfortable for in-bed reading, big, generally cumbersome.)

The M&S stuff weren’t requests, but I do love local junk foods, so they were interesting to try. The Mini Bites were fancier, mintier versions of Ho Hos, a Hostess product I’m not crazy about, so an elevated take on them seemed kinda silly. The brownies were pretty good, though they were on sale because they’d passed their sell-by date the week previous. To M&S’s credit, they actually did taste a little stale so they presumably use fresh-ish ingredients and not all chemicals. These might be worth taste-testing again.

But, wait! There’s more!

→ The words that describe the people of a place are called demonyms. The US, with its odd state names, has some good ones.

→ If you want a primer on Mark Kermode (pronounced KERH-mode), check out this great compilation of his best rants. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I lovelovelove the one for TRANSFORMERS 3. It’s got some of the best Mark-made soundeffects.