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I am shocked and confused when I spend mental energy battling against cultural stereotypes and they turn out to be true. Thus I raconte you the story of Siobhan.

I am so excited to actually know someone named Siobhan. Valéry Larbaud's 7-hour-a-week Irish assistant is lucky enough to have this name that not even Anglophones can pronounce. The French have no idea what to do with it. Add to this that she has an Mc last name, and she is a complete enigma to anyone who is unfortunate enough to have to try to spell her name.

It was her first working day yesterday so I showed her around and took her to the cafeteria for the first time. We took our trays, our silverware, our baguette-style roll, and started down the line. We get our choice of fruit, our choice of dairy product, then we get to the main course, which yesterday was turkey and green beans.

I took my plate of turkey and green beans and Siobhan asked me "But isn't there a potato with this?" I stared at her for a moment, confused. It's interesting to have another native English speaker in the school, but sometimes we don't speak the same language. No, there's no potato. There's turkey and green beans. Did she see a potato somewhere? "I don't think so..." I replied. "You don't usually have some kind of potato or chips or something? It's always meat and veg?" I explained that we sometimes have steak haché frites or have a potato product in place of the vegetable, which she found completely foreign. Apparently she is used to having a potato product with every meal.

I am shocked. I had assumed that the Irish couldn't be as dependent on potatoes as they are reputed to be. I think I had assumed that after the Potato Famine they had learned to diversify their meals and that was how they survived.

But apparently not.


srah - Tuesday, 26 November 2002 - 3:10 AM
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