Almost four and half years ago (what?!) I went to France. I went with a program through my high school after I graduated and considered it a "hooray for me!" sort of trip. It was a blast and I hope one day I can travel to other places and explore the world some more. After I returned, I was asked by my teacher to write a column for our local newspaper. Here is what my eighteen-year-old-self wrote:
When a person goes to another country he never knows what to fully expect. Of course stories are heard like "the people there are hairy" or "the entire place just holds an awful stench to it" but that still doesn't cover everything. Even if it did, that was another person's experience, not your own. You have to make your own decisions and observations. Here are some of the things that I observed:
There are no water fountains anywhere in France. When you find one, drink up and fill your water bottles because you probably won't find one for the rest of the day. If you get thirsty and you're out of water, guess what? You have to pay basically a million dollars (about two Euros) for even a small water bottle. Either that or you mooch off of your friends, but you can't do that all the time. It's not very polite.
Public bathrooms that you don't have to pay for are virtually impossible to find, though they are more common than water fountains. When I was staying with my host family in Grenoble, Laura, the daughter, and I decided to go shopping. A few hours into our little escapade I realized that after drinking a liter of water I needed a bathroom. If Laura hadn't been with me I don't know what I would have done because she led me to the only public bathroom in the shopping district: top floor, far back corner, of the Galeries Lafayette.
Peanut butter doesn't exist in France. OK, so you may find one jar of peanut butter in the foreign section of a supermarket, but that's it. Needless to say, if you can't find peanut butter in a grocery store, you can't find it in their candy bars either. I was quite disappointed.
These are just a few examples of the traits about France that one wouldn't expect, or at least I wouldn't. The small things about a country are what make it unique. If you look at the world from a large scale, everywhere seems the same. Politics, money (or lack there of), the desire for power, etc. ... However, when you look deeper, on a smaller scale, you see the things that make a country special, whether you like those things or not (like the lack of peanut butter and water fountains).
This trip is something I will never forget. The people I traveled with, the teachers who put up with us and made it all happen, and the country itself have left an impact on my life that I wouldn't change for the world.
Sometimes I think it'd be fun to go back in time and talk to my younger self--not necessarily to lecture or anything but just to simply talk. I think I'd make myself laugh. Anyway, I thought of this article for a very specific reason: my mini peanut butter rant. It is so American, and I love it! Basically, if anybody ever criticizes you (and you're American) for an excessive love of peanut butter, just tell them that you're embracing your patriotism, haha.
Peanut Butter Granola
Recipe from shape.com
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
--Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
--Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use a silpat. Set aside.
--Stir together the peanut butter and honey in a tiny sauce pan over low heat until the peanut butter is melted into the honey. (You can use a microwave if you really want to, but it zaps out the great qualities of the honey.)
--Remove from heat and mix in the cinnamon and vanilla, then add the oats and stir it all together until the oats are completely covered with the peanut butter blend.
--Spread the covered oats onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes until the granola is slightly browned. If you kept your granola in larger chunks you may need to go longer, but watch out for burning.
---Let the granola cool until it's crunchy, just a few minutes is all. It won't be as rock solid as store bought granola, but it'll still have a nice bite to it =)