I know that some people see France simply as French—as in one big country full of French people doing French things. That's definitely what I thought before I started traveling here extensively. Everyone drinks wine, eats cheese, wears black, etcetera. With me it wasn't so much naiveté as it was just a complete lack of awareness. I had never spent much time in France, I didn't speak French, and I certainly didn't know anything about its various cultures. However, like in any country France has its regional differences and specialties. Normandy for example has it's own very specific character that I've come to appreciate over the years. It might be the half-timbered farmhouses that draw me in.
Or the rolling green hills, lush with long grass and orchards.
Or the fact that people drink cider instead of Champagne. It's too cold to grow grapes in Normandy, so apples and pears rule the day.
I love all the regionally-specific shops where you can buy Camembert, apple preserves, cider, and pommeau.
And I especially love being here during December to experience the holiday cheer.
How wonderful is it that I can still order duck fillet with fried potatoes, but the Norman version that comes with fried apples as well, smothered in a reduction of pommeau? I think Americans become obsessed with French culture because it makes such an effort to exist. Each region carries on its own historic traditions with such pride and importance in a way that we've yet to establish at home (we're still new at this whole tradition thing in America). There is a certain amount of jealousy I think. Look at my two friends Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson who created an entire San Francisco bar dedicated to Normandy after visiting here. It can be quite contagious, this whole French eating and drinking thing. Beyond simple affectation, I mean.