Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Culture difference: French food or Maggi Mee

My family had a fabulous time in France and during our trip to Italy and Switzerland. However, I got known to quite some cultural differences that I would like to share with you guys or get your opinions.

When my family first arrived in Paris, they ate whatever they wanted, basically we bought the local foods and cooked them our way. They had one meal in the restaurant and was not tempted after. As for the kids, they had maggi mee whenever they couldn't stand the local food.

Thing changed when they arrived in my in laws place. My in laws had put a lot of efforts in creating menu for them. Each meal had been decided before hand. I didn't realize my in laws have so much dining and house rules at home until my family arrived. One of the examples is that everybody has to sit down and eat whatever the host offered and if you reject any serving that would be considered impolite.

So it was ok the first day they were there, but after a while they really couldn't appreciate every dishes, especially my parents who don't take cheese at all. The kids ate little during the meal and got hungry after.

In this situation, my family cooked the children maggi mee and it was found offensive. What about you guys? Would you prepare something for your kids or you leave them starve as they should have eaten whatever was offered?


  1. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Welcome home Bee Ean. Missing all your nice posts.
    As for the children, they grew up in diff kind of environment and just can't blame them if their taste bud doesn't favor new dishes. Try make them taste it at least.

  2. Bee Ean,
    I wouldn't starve the kids coz as young as they are, it's hard for them to accept a taste bud that they don't like.
    I would explain it politely to your MIL that there is not wrong with her food but it's just because the kids aren't used to the taste of French food.

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  4. Anonymous8:05 AM

    French people can really crack me up sometimes with the absolutely unreasonable explanations for their offense.

    Of course you don't simply allow a child to starve, though I do see someone here doing just that with a child...yes, I said it.

    I once went to my ex's home and and his grandmother (who is like his mom) prepared fries and a steak...which was much more alikened to a tough leather belt, sans was bland as hell, the fries were greasy and I refused to eat it.

    I didn't even care if she was offended. My stomach was far more offended by the revolting taste of her food.

    I simply told her that I ate already and I wasn't hungry anymore. I also told her that I don't prefer French food. :ol

  5. no offence but if your family is chinese based... i think it's difficult to actually adapt into french eating lifestyle... no matter how hospitable it is...

  6. Little explanation here on how Fabien was raised so you know how this would be considered offensive. Whenever Fabien didn't want to eat a dish, he would have the same dish on the table every meals until he finished it. If not he wouldn't be entitled to any desserts or whatever he liked. Imagine cold fish on breakfast and lunch and dinner until you eat it.

    I think it's the total opposite for my nieces and nephew. They are offered whatever they want and they are excused if they don't like something.

    I appreciate everyone's opinion here, now I don't feel as bad. I will try to explain to my in-laws next time.

  7. Anonymous3:57 AM

    When French food is an acquired taste even for adults, if children of another culture could eat it without complains, we'd have world peace.

  8. I would definitely make the maggi mee for the kids! Malaysian tastebuds are so different to French tastebuds. Don't feel bad. Your in-laws should try to understand.

  9. Anonymous6:16 AM

    i am sorry, but i think its rude that they cook mee maggi for the kids in your in laws house.i think if the kids are young like under age 2, the parents would be responsible to bring extra snacks or food. but if they are above age 2, i am sure if your in laws put up a spread, they will hv at least something to eat even cheese.

    i am in this kind of situation a lot and its worse than i am a picky eater but i never want to offend the host, i will pick what i can eat and just eat the same thing.

    another polite way would have been to call ahead to your in laws and mentioned if your family has some dietary requirements. i know i have been able to accomodate my guest's request if they call in advance and vice versa.

    i am malaysian too so i guess we all hv different opinions.

  10. Hi Aida,

    Do you like in France?

    I understand your point of view. However, when the French were in Malaysia, some of them didn't like our food either. Of course they didn't cook their own food, but would just have one bite and then that's it. It's just that the serving system is so different that you hardly notice what people eat since everyone picks from the same plate. But in France, the host serves everyone, so if you take little, they notice it immediately. If you have taken and not finish, they will also notice.

    For my family who has never tried French food before, it's very hard for them to accept everything and like everything, especially the kid. Even me when I first arrived, I couldn't take everything and just slowly trying out and liking stuffs.

  11. Anonymous6:01 AM

    hi bee ean, what do you mean if i like in France? i've never been to France.

    just i am saying that irregardless of the host's nationality, some table manners would be required. i mean for lack of better word, dont care how the French act to our food but I think i would be offended too if my guest came to my house and cook something else in front of my face while I prepare a spread for them.

    I agree that no one should be forced to do or eat anything they dont want but I still do think it will be polite to inform the host of your family's dietary requirement. as for the kid, i do blame it on the parents.

    all that said, i was in the same situation before as well. i came to canada with my all-malaysian palate. my hubby live in a tiny fishing town in east coast of canada and they eat a lot of fish prepared very different, lots of stuff that i've never seen or tasted and quite honestly think it was a little gross. but as i am there to respect my host (in this case, my in laws), i too eat what i can and inform my in laws of certain things that i will not try like their seal flipper pie.

    i am now living in arctic canada where the food is even more weird and i think its just polite to tell the host that i dont eat certain things. in the arctic, they serve whale blubber which i will never in a million years eat, so i will just inform my host and they are fine with it. i would never hv dreamed to 'cook" my own food in my host's house.

    but then again, its just another side of the story. not a debate but an opinion.

  12. Hi Aida,

    Sorry I meant to ask whether you "live" in France. Now I got the answer, so you live in Canada.

    I understand your rationing. They cooked the maggi mee after my in-laws went to sleep. It was my husband who saw it and was not happy about it. Personally, I still have problem accepting the mentality that you need to appreciate whatever the host provide. I wouldn't want the kids to starve. I will see how many French kids can actually go to Malaysia and accept every Malaysian foods. I think there should be mutual understanding that cultural differences do exist that people just need to tolerate each other.