Quotes

Sep 20, 2014

Those Wacky French: Fol Epi

THE STORY:
 
In general, French people and Parisians in particular appear to take themselves pretty seriously. But don't fear. Don't fret. And don't do anything that's forbidden on these signs. Or do, but just don't forget to take keep your sense of humor about it. The warnings range from ironic to inexplicable:
 
 
 

And for goodness sake, whatever you do, don't lift a cheek and fart on the roller coaster. That may not be what the words say, but the picture is crystal clear. This is slightly cheating, as Europa Park is just over the border in Germany. But I am too immature to resist.
 
 
 
When was the last time you went out and realized, "Shoot! I forgot pants and underwear, and now my lower half is naked!" If it happens to you frequently, you'd appreciate this poster that reminds you: "In parks and gardens, we don't forget to wear something on bottom."


We immediately dub see this sculpture in Strasbourg "The Poop Man". When we look at the plaque for information, we find out the artist's name is Schütte, and if you know anything about German and umlauts (those little dots over the letter ü), you'll know that his name is pronounced, roughly, "Shit".

 

Sometimes the French are dead serious. It might only be me that finds it funny. This guy is saying "Let's share the taste of local beef!" I'm sure this is terribly sad for vegetarians, and for local cows, but for some reason I find the whole sign priceless. 

 
This one, seen in southern France, speacks for itself. Especially if you're an English speacker.
 
 
And this one: "le parking, c'est fun!" Really. In Paris? Who are they kidding?
 

Some of what we see as humorous is only funny because my friends, family, and I are, evidently, juvenile.



In case you're wondering, what's actually behind the strategically-placed sign in the café above is the letter "A". Along with those gems go my favorite named pair of Parisian cafés, Nemrod & Schmuck:
 
 
My friend's husband (and, therefore, also my friend) finds this statue -- the original, ancient selfie -- in the Louvre.
 
photo by Alden Gewiz: more photography at his site http://www.kid-see.com/blog/

Sometimes it's clear that the French themselves are in on the joke.
 

At other times, it's not so clear. I suspect these owners are sincere, and simply think selling bagels and pasta at an Indian restaurant called "Le Butter Chicken" is par for the course.

 
And I'm just not sure: Would I rather have Oriental Pain, or a Super Ass Gyro?
 
 

This tombstone at the Montparnasse Cemetery shows a dark side of the French sense of humor. Look carefully at the dates.


Jewish humor crosses borders: Mickey's Deli, open since the year 5755 (Jewish year, that is, and equivalent to 1995).


I like this magazine, Causeur, whose tagline says, "Especially if you don't agree." I know a few contrarians who should subscribe. But they might not agree.
 

I feel that this comes closer to truth-in-advertising than most ads, which makes it especially funny in my book. The ParisgoCola slogan: "Non! This Parisian is not undrinkable!"


And well, then there's this. 


THE CHEESE: Fol Epi

Fol Epi is an industrial, commercial grocery store sort of cheese. Made from pasteurized cow's milk, you can find it at the deli counter in a large wheel, or pre-sliced in packages from the grocery store aisles. It comes in cumin flavor and in pre-made soufflés, too.



The name "Fol Epi" means something like "Crazy Tuft of Wheat", and the logo of the company is a tuft of wheat, an épi. There's nothing particularly crazy, silly, mad, or insane about the cheese or the logo however. What does seem crazy is the fact that the milk is pasteurized, yet it's a non-cooked cheese. I think I'll have to explain that more thoroughly in a Cheeseday (Tuesday, that is) posting, but for the moment, suffice it to say that the pasteurized milk is not re-heated as part of the cheese-making process.
 
The cheese is moist and slightly sweet, in that deli-counter, sandwich-making, Swiss-cheese sort of way. But really, it's very, very mild, to the point where I find it quite bland. I wouldn't even bother putting it on a sandwich; if I'm going to get the calories and cholesterol, I might as well actually taste something.

THE CONNECTION:

I choose a cheese whose name translates as "crazy" or "silly" to go with some pretty silly things that make me giggle here in France.

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