Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cheese wars

So, here we are, halfway through the first month of 2009, which may or may not be the year the whole world implodes according to the papers.

'Recession', they all scream except in France where they scream 'Cheese Wars' after Dubya's parting shot to those 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' as they are affectionately know by our American cousins was to shove a 300% import duty on their beloved Roquefort. (France is working on the premise that if you ignore the recession it will go away unlike in the UK where they tell you over and over again how bad things are then go 'Gosh, why has the exchange rate dropped?' Duh!)

Yes, that nasty Dubya has slapped a 100% import duty on a whole list of EU goods but singled out 'The King of Cheeses', made in my own region, the Midi-Pyrenees, according to a 1000 year old recipe, for special treatment.

Le Monde said that the US action meant that Mr Bush's presidency "will end on yet another crisis".

Hmm, not sure I would equate the global financial crisis with a decision to slap a whole load of duty on a smelly French cheese!

Robert Glandieres, the president of the Roquefort Producer's organisation, is quoted as saying 'this affair doesn't smell good'. A bit like his cheese then!

Last time this happened, the French sheep farmers retaliated by destroying a MacDonalds restaurant in Millau, in the Aveyron, and they are threating the same again. To be honest, as the French are the biggest consumers of MacDonalds in Europe, the chances are they will be hurting their compatriots more than the US but hey, you can't argue with a Frenchman on a mission, even if it is just over his cheese.


Anonymous said...

Only about 2% of the Roquefort produced went to the USA anyway so the only people really likely to suffer are the few americans who actually liked it.

I am always horrified at the number of MacDonalds when I come to France; let's hope they destroy more than one this time.

Debra in France said...

I agree with Aliennes comments about McD.

At least if more Roquefort stays in France then it is more for us to eat!! Hey this French positiveness is rubbing off on me!!

I have always loved the fact that the French nation stands up for it own people and for what it believes ie, Truckers strikes, air traffic control strike and sticking two fingers up to the EU at various times!

Babooshka said...

As someone who longs to move to France your heavy dose of realism is the blog for me.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Alienne - as ever the French are making a huge thing about nothing. Surprised they haven't called a strike. It's a national sport here (as is eating McDo's. Our nearest town, which is half the size of Tunbridge Wells, has 3! I remember the outcry when McD tried to open in T. Wells. It was fought for years before they got permission. VLiF

Debra - I don't like blue cheeses anyway so I'm not fussed what they do with it. Hmm, not sure I agree with you. I find all the strikes really annoying, particularly when half the time they don't even know what they are striking about. My kids missed about a week of school last year because of strikes and the kids at Lycee didn't even finish the Bac because they spent most of the year protesting. Ask then what they are protesting against and they rarely know. Yes, France does look after it's own... unless of course you are from the North African or DOM/TOM countries, in which case you can forget it. VLiF

Babooshka - welcome to my blog. There is lots lovely about life in France, but in general it's a long way removed from the nauseating 'Living the Dream' books that proliferate. So here I am as the antidote! Hope you come back again. VLiF

Dumdad said...

Hi VLiF,

I understand why Brits dream the dream but the reality is somewhat different. I've been in Paris 16 years now. (Gulp, I want to go home!). But I knew what I was facing as I'd also lived a year in Paris in the '80s. And I have a French wife so have backup of French family and friends all over the place. It makes a big difference when one is trying to wade through interminable French red tape.

There's a lot I like about French living and my children appear to be happy at school, which is of a good standard and it's not costing me a bras and a jambe.

I speak, read and write the lingo but I haven't gone native after all this time. I love French cuisine and wine but go weak at the knees at the thought of good steak and kidney pie or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or a proper full English breakfast. And I miss the cricket and tennis and snooker.

I'd better stop or I'll be heading for the next Eurostar...

RB said...

I think the problem is ego--which is something pinpointed by many of these comments. Look at the history (some good background here: Read that, then tell me if you really think Big old America is going to react fearfully to another McDonald's getting destroyed..well...those are fighting words..I think.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Hi Dumdad, thanks for your comments. People move here for so many different reasons don't they, some better than others. I too lived in Paris for a year while doing my degree, however, it didn't prepare me for life in rural France one little bit :)) The biggest thing I've realised is how disadvantaged you are living in la France profonde compared to city living in everything from schooling to public services. The idea of 'égalité de chances' is a distant dream here with poor quality, under-resourced education and unemployment running at nearly 20%. I've found it certainly helps to be fluent in the language, and you have the added bonus of French family who 'know' the system. How people manage without more than basic French, is a mystery to me but I guess I take my hat off to them for trying. VLiF