lundi 21 décembre 2009

cultural differences in food packaging

i've learned that even simple inane things like food packaging can be cultural.

my first experience with a specificity to french food packaging was ...

#1. rice in a bag

instant rice comes in a box with four individual packages. naturally, i would heat up the water. cut open a bag. pour the rice in. and cook.

until one day, i was making rice for a french friend and as i was cutting open the bag, he was like... "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! -- don't cut the bag! just throw the entire bag with the rice into the water!"

i didn't believe him. how could you throw a plastic bag into boiling water?

lo and behold, he was right. and let me tell you.

rice in a bag. is GENIUS.

(we don't have that in the US, do we? cause we should)

#2 sugar in a box

this one's for pilar.

ok, american and french have different food packaging concepts. understandable. but this is a spanish - french difference. you would think the countries being so close together, they would have a common base of food packaging. but no.

sugar in france often comes in a box. so pilar would open the sugar box from the top - like you open a cereal box. makes sense, right?

the french however, are quite clever when it comes to packaging. pilar did not notice the handy side opening - allowing for a clean and efficient pouring of sugar (rather than spooning out clumsily from the top).

and finally,

#3 oven-resistant pie dough wax paper

this packaging was definitely the biggest revelation for me...

in france, they sell pie dough wrapped in a wax paper.

sidenote: i never used to make apple pie in the US, but due to the combination of a) apple pie being the embodiment of american culture, and b) pie dough being so readily available, i started making it for potlucks and dinner parties -- and after three years of living in france and baking apple pies, it's become sorta my trademark (i was even graced with an apple peeler for my birthday last year to ease the process ... )

anyway. i also make quiches. so i use pie dough a lot.

and naturally - when making a pie/quiche, i used to pull out the wrapped pie dough, cut open the packaging, separate the dough from the wax paper and do my best not to massacre the dough as i transferred it to the pie mold. but--- it got messy every time.

until one day....

i was at a friend's house watching him make quiche. he cut open the pie dough packaging, unraveled the dough with the wax and put the wax paper directly into the pie mold!

i was. flabbergasted.

it changed my life.

not only do you have a neat crust, but you cut down on time. and you don't have to grease your mold.

i'm telling you, i was blown away.

that's it for now ....

have you misunderstood any quirky food packaging lately?