After 48 years, The Southern Woman That I Married can still surprise me.
We went shopping the other day. You see, we're at the beginning of the French winter sales. Yes, stores here have sales all of the time, but I'm talking about THE SALES. Twice each year, once in winter and once in summer, every store holds sales. It's an official thing. There's a national start date (although it may vary a bit from region to region), a national end date, and stores are not permitted to bring in stock just for THE SALES. So these are true clearances. Discounts can be 70% or more. Serious savings.
Yes, I know. Controlled capitalism. How could it possibly work? Hint: It
works because everybody buys into it, even the capitalists.
The day before we hit the shops, Cathey said,"Let's have lunch at Burger King." Be aware that Cathey has been trying to find a decent hamburger ever since we arrived in France. We've tried Buffalo Grill. We've ordered a burger at one of our favorite, totally French little bar/restaurants. We've talked about visiting Memphis Grill. And Cathey has tried to create the perfect burger at home. The problem, thwarting perfection, is the bun.
It is my contention that the best dogs and burgers are enhanced by cheap, squishy, white bread buns. I'm certain that some of you will disagree. I'm OK with that. But tell me why, in a country known for its marvelous and varied bread baking, the French can't come up with a hamburger roll that will survive the first couple of bites without breaking apart and falling to pieces? It's as if the French think that the proper bun for a hamburger should be closer to brioche than to Wonder Bread. Certainly, if the only requirement for a hamburger bun is that it doesn't break up before the burger is fully consumed, there are any number of Gallic breads and rolls that would do. But then you'd be chewing through a crunchy, crusty bun to get to the meat of the matter. The bun shouldn't be a distraction. It's about the burger and its condiments.
So, off to Burger King.
In the middle of a major shopping and office complex on the outskirts of Narbonne, the joint was jumping at lunchtime on a mostly sunny Friday. It's as big a place as any Burger King that I've seen in the States and it was just about full to capacity. The crowd was almost exclusively young, friends and family. Most ordered at the electronic ATM-like machines in the center aisle. We went to the counter and had no difficulty reading a menu that contained a surprising amount of English.
Cathey ordered a Whopper with fries and a bottle of water. I had a double with cheese, fries, and Sprite - my first soda in a couple of years, by the way. They came with packets of ketchup and fry sauce, a mayonnaise-based concoction from Heinz! At the current lousy exchange rate, the cost came to about $20.00
Here's where it gets truly bizarre. Cathey said,"Yum. Iceberg lettuce. And the pickles are perfect. The bun almost held up all the way. All that it needs is some mustard under the patty. I'll bring some next time." Add that the fries, though reconstituted, were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and Cathey's assessment was,"Itch scratched."
Well, if Cathey can take me to Burger King, I guess that I have the right to demand KFC one of these days. We'll see.
By the way, if you are an American with an itch for a burger, I suppose that you could do worse. With that caveat, recommended.