Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


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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The Loot Was Left Behind

Traveling in the winter is the pits. Navigating an airport with your coat and all your bundling up stuff is annoying enough, but the real issue is that winter clothes take up so much damn space. Buy two sweaters and suddenly your suitcase is filled up and you have to leave behind most of the food you bought.

The real tragedy here is that I had been counting on that food to sustain me during my first 30 hours back in France and since I didn’t have it, I had to actually get out of bed, shower and go buy things to eat which was rough since my getting-over-jet-lag procedure is very clear and doesn’t allow for any of those things.*

Left behind loot

Pictured (and not consumed by me):

  • 2 cereal containers
  • 2 packages of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins
  • 1 box of Cheerios
  • 1 box of Rice Chex
  • 1 box of cinnamon graham crackers
  • 1 bag cinnamon yogurt pretzels (sounded interesting)
  • ½ Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (I was able to fit one sleeve into my carry-on)

* For the record, the secret to recovery from a westward-originating flight is to get home from the airport, shower, eat something, then take two bottles of water to bed and crash out until the following morning. Somehow, when I wake up again, the water’s been drunk and I feel ready to face the world.

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Cookie Monstre

I’ve never really been a cookie person. Given a choice between standard American sweet things, I’m going to choose sheet cake every time. After that, it’d probably be cupcakes that are made of the same kind of cake. Then, donuts maybe and at some point down the line, the first cookie to appear would be a snickerdoodle.

But these French bastards over here make some insane cookies. I can safely say that since I’ve been here, I’ve eaten more small flat baked things than I probably had in the ten previous years.

And these are my favorites (so far).

(Generic store brand Leader Price) Florentin aux Amandes.

The weird thing is that I don’t really like almonds (I don’t think they’d crack my Top Ten Nuts), but these are wonderful and wafer-thin. They practically melt on your tongue but then there’s a little crunch to them and they’re delicious. So good are they, in fact, that I haven’t bought any for months because I am saving them for a special occasion. Maybe when I find a place to live. If I find one.

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Having people come to visit is all good and well, but what I really like is having people be my mules and bring me stuff.

I’ve got family in town and here are some of the goodies they were able to fit into their suitcases.

  • All different kinds of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups: in a bar form; a “big cup;” without wrappers!
  • The screenplay to True Romance, one of my favorite movies.
  • The first two volumes of Winston Churchill’s A History of the English Speaking Peoples. I’m going to know so many new things!
  • David McCullough‘s book about Americans in Paris! I am totally going to relate (or not).
  • Hot Tamales, possibly the best cinnamon candy
  • Triple antibiotic ointment: it’s the duct tape of the first aid world
  • Not pictured: 14 pairs of underwear (woo-hoo!), a Ziploc full of Cheerios and a fancy version of a Hostess cupcake. It was bigger than both my fists together and took almost 30 minutes to eat due to the insane level of sweetness, but it was damn good.

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You can’t take it with you

For me, the one downside to traveling is falling in love with things I can’t get where I live. I often think about how if I had only stayed in the same geographic area my whole life, like my BFF has, I’d never miss anything since everything I would have ever known would still be right there.

A combination of mustard, cinnamon, Cayenne pepper, clove, turmeric and other amazing things

The first thing I consciously felt the absence of was this incredible mustard called Savora which my grandparents had at their house. I would slather a thick layer onto steaks and tortillas (the Spanish kind) and dip fried potatoes into it until I figured out that the most efficient way to get it into my belly was to eat it by the spoonful. When my parents found out, I wasn’t allowed any more condiments on my food for a long time which pissed me off but probably prevented me from becoming the youngest person ever with an ulcer.

When we weren’t in Spain, my grandmother would sometimes send jars in care packages but since Savora is exclusively bottled in glass, it was a pretty dangerous proposition to do so. In college, my mom would try to stock up and send me a small box of mustard, but since I had become a “grown up,” I would parcel it out judiciously so as not to run out.

Now that I’m living in Europe, I can have Savora basically anytime I want. Here in France, they sell it in every grocery store I’ve ever been in which is incredibly awesome. I use it to make salad dressing, thicken sauces for chicken breasts, smear it on bread for a sandwich and sometimes I’ll just dab a bit on a piece of cheese because it is delicious.

Of course, what I miss now are all the things I can’t get here, like Hostess Cupcakes which create their own shipping problems. It’s cravings like these that make me plan my next trip to the US.