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Published: October 13th 2010
The area my hotel is in is a shopping district which also houses a gigantic market. It never ceases to amaze me how different continental shops and markets are from ours considering they are only 2 hours away by train. Our shops have more in common with the US, an entire ocean away, than they do with the French. For example, in the market today there was a mushroom stall with twenty different types of mushroom. When do you ever see that in England? Then there are the fromageries, each selling a hundred different cheeses and nothing else, save some bottles of wine to compliment them. Apparently there are four hundred different cheeses made in France. Puts England in the shade! There are the delicatessans selling scores of different types of cured meats and the boulangeries selling dozens of different types of bread. The boucheries sell chickens of many types, coquelets, poussins and poulet as well as pigeon, quail, grouse and goose, alongside pigs trotters, tripe and all manner of edible bits that you just never see in England. The dried fruit sellers sell them mixed with sugar candy and meringues and nougat and the cake shops are just out of this world. Even McDonalds over here serve beer alongside le cheeseburgers. The more I see of food here and in the continent the more I am convinced we are completely screwed over by our food sellers and we should open the floodgates to the European ideal!
Another interesting thing to me is that there are shops that we just don't have at all. For example there is a fur coat seller that sells nothing but fur coats (no knickers). There is a glover. Yes, an entire shop dedicated to selling nothing but gloves. How do they survive in the summer? Fashion?
I went in Virgin Megastore and they had a massive floor dedicated to comics. All the French comics are hardback books in the manor of Tintin, except they tackle every genre under the sun: detective, romance, horror, sci-fi, politics, eroticism, satire, you name it. The place was full of people just sitting down on the floor reading the comics and the shop staff didn't seem to mind at all! They even had a cafe for them to do it in, selling booze of course. It has never ceased to amaze me that the only two countries in the world that think that comics are a kids medium are the British and Americans, even more amazing given the history of satirical and political cartoons in Britain and the fact the Americans are one of the the most prolific comic book producers in the world.
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