Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sometimes They Even Freeze the Food, Stupid

Columnist Olivia Judson wrote a week or so ago in the New York Times about the idea that the simple act of speaking a particular language can put one into a particular mood.  She wrote this column on precisely no evidence, but I liked it nonetheless.  Or perhaps even because of that fact.

Her basic theory is that the facial maneuvers required to say the vowel “eeeee” (go ahead, say it) are the same as those required to smile.  And if you’re smiling, no matter what mood you were in before you started smiling,  or why your face got itself into that position, you’re bound to end up the teensiest bit happier afterwards. 

She further hypothesizes, without any of that pesky evidence stuff, that languages that require you to smile to speak them would have the effect of making you much more cheerful.   From that she also imagines that downer languages (German, she seems to poke at most aggressively) are the ones with the umlauts and tones that require you, even if you’re feeling perfectly sanguine, to turn down the corners of your mouth.

To that, I say EEEEEE.  Or, more specifically, FrEEEEEEEze.  Because I am happy today, and I think it has something to do with our freezer.  Thanks to our ex-pat role models Zaro and Gareth, we discovered Picard (a word that does not require you to smile), a store from which we have filled up our deep freeze (smile twice when you say that, sister.)  

Picard freezes all kinds of scrumptious food for French people, and, since we’re living here for the time being, for us too.  Forget forever anything you have thought about frozen fish patties and Saralee cheesecakes (two smiles) and Lean Cuisine (two more) entreĆ©s.  This is the kind of food that actually tastes like food when you eat it, not like sawdust or reconstituted boxes. 

Picard thus allows French people to continue to be just as French when they suddenly find themselves without the acres of time it takes to cook amazing stuff from scratch.  Or perhaps when they find themselves hungry in one of those weird in-between times when the restaurants and the grocery stores have shuttered and locked their doors, and even the bakeries are closed.   These times happen every single day – and all day long on Sunday – so having a decent source for something good to eat is no small matter.

For example, today for lunch we had a frozen pizza.  I know, I know, you’re thinking Tombstone, perhaps Stouffer’s.   No, this was a real pizza, once thawed in our convection oven.   Crispy crust.  Real olives, and cheese on top.  It was heaven.

We’re still recovering from all the heavy-duty entertaining we did when Nona and Pops were here, (trust me, it was all worth it!) so we also had Picard for dinner last night.  Little breaded shrimp with an orange dipping sauce.  A leek tart with a perfectly lovely crust.  Fried cod that had very little in common with Gorton’s fish sticks.  The French know how to eat, even as they slowly adopt some of the more convenient habits of their good friends in the U.S.A.

So here’s to our freezer, and all the words with EE’s in them, particularly those that are related to all things French.   Say each ond of them (and perhaps your own list) aloud, like a little prayer to the good gods of happiness: 

Bee, Breeze, Cheese, Deep, Fee, Fleas, Freeze, Gee, He, Jee, Key, lean, Lee, Knee, Me, Pea, Please, Sea, Sieze, Tea, Tease, Trees, TV, Whee!, ZZZZZ…

1 comment:

  1. We've been going crazy on Picard too! I had heard about I think from a David Sedaris bit on a This American Life. Good stuff!