April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
A couple of days ago, I took on American citizenship. I am now a citizen both of France and of the U.S. and these are indeed the two nations I know best. Hence, i will begin by comparing these two cultures.
Let’s see. I had some rapid notes:
fridge privacy individualism family cars 50s postwar glorious vs reconstruction 1sthand experience WWII and its passed on trauma
Now, let us decipher this.
I have noticed that when Americans visit their friends, they open the fridge freely. It seems to be a sign of friendship, of hospitality. My house is open, and so is my fridge, but generally only as far as beverages, and more specifically beer generally, although with closer friends it could be food. Is it just that I happen to have rude friends? because in my French culture as I remember it, it would be perceived as extremely rude to go for the fridge without being asked to (and asking permission to access the fridge would be seen as socially very awkward).
However, the fridge in the US is generally very compartmentalized when roommates live together. I say, generally because I have also seen communities of roommates sharing most of the foods. In general though, it is like sharing closet space. Roommates do not eat together and therefore do not share food. They have separate lives and separate fridge shelves. The phenomenon of roommating in France is not as common and usually reserved to students or alternative communities but from what I have seen, French roommates tend to eat together and their foods generally belong to the community rather than to themselves. The French generally treat the space shared as communal rather than individually compartmentalized. However, for the French the communal living is very much a phase of youth – associated with the university life, and it transitions rapidly into an individual space, only shared with one’s family. The idea of living with roommates past 30 is uncomfortable except for some idealists.
Then again, Americans tend to have much more individualized diets. It might begin with lunchboxes vs la cantine. Hence, the need to compartmentalize fridge shelves. I don’t eat your animal derivatives, you don’t eat my gluten.
To be continued and refined. Forgive me if I seem to take sides.