Skip to main content

PEANUT BUTTER, E-TAIL, AND YES, BREXIT AND TRUMP: JANUARY, 2019 RANT

PEANUT BUTTER

What's so hard about it? You take a pile of peanuts, you grind 'em up, you put the resulting paste in a jar, and there you have it. Peanut butter. High in protein. Calorie dense, yes. But not excessively so. It's good for you, dammit. And if you keep it simple without adding sweeteners or stirring in chocolate, it's an inexpensive, natural food.

Peanut butter is an essential part of my daily breakfast. I take a few fibrous crackers (fiber is good for you), spread some peanut butter on them (for morning protein), and cover the peanut butter with blackberry jam (high in vitamin C). In preparation for this post, I even read about a 2009 study that found that rats who were fed blackberries had improved cognitive and motor skills over a control group. So don't give me a hard time for breakfasting on PB&J. Nobody's going to mess with my cognitive skills by putting me in a control group, thank you very much.

Apparently, however, the French don't appreciate the benefits of the humble goober and its accompanying comestibles. When we first arrived in France going on five years ago, I found jars of the heavenly paté d'arachide for under 5€/kg. Cheap as chips. Over the years, more and more imported jars became available - Skippy and Reese's and others - but they sold for 10€/kg. 14€/kg, and more. Fine. Go gourmet if you must. The cheap stuff was still available.

Until now.

Gone from E.Leclerc. Gone from Carrefour. Gone from Géant. Gone. I either have to spend way too much money or give up peanut butter altogether. The French can't keep Nutella on the shelves, for heaven's sake. They make a spreadable paste out of Speculos, the French equivalent of graham crackers. But peanut butter? Can't be bothered. As one frustrated blogger has complained, the French will slather garlic butter on snails but find peanut butter disgusting? How does that work?

There's no excuse for it. No excuse.

E-TAIL IN FRANCE

Jeff Bezos is a genius. Well, except for the prenup thing. But the idea that you don't need a brick-and-mortar store to build a retail empire was inspired. In France, Amazon's major e-tail competitor, pale by comparison, is Cdiscount. I don't use Cdiscount much, mostly to comparison shop. And sure enough, when Cathey decided that she needed another wall-mounted kitchen cabinet, Cdiscount came up with the winner. A close match to our current cabinets, which are of course no longer in production, and reasonably priced as well. Free delivery. I made the order.

Do you want to join our discount club?

No.

Free for the first month. Are you certain?

Yes. I'm certain. Can I buy the cabinet, please.

(Remember, this is all in French. At times like this, Google Translate is your friend.)

Okay. Credit card please.

And so I paid. And so I discovered that Cdiscount would not be the supplier of the cabinet. No. Cdiscount, having received payment, sent me to Comforium, a purveyor of kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Apparently Belgian. At least, it appears that the cabinet would be coming from Belgium.

I quickly received an email from Comforium confirming my order and giving me a delivery date of no later than November 27. So far so good.

On December  3, I emailed Comforium and copied Cdiscount. Where's the cabinet?

It's being prepared for shipment.

When can I expect it?

Next week.

Repeat on December 17.

Repeat on December 24. I added that if the cabinet did not arrive the following week, I would expect my money back. If that seems unduly patient of me, you must understand. This is France. Not quite Mexico, but certainly not the United States. You expect timely communication? You expect timely delivery? What planet do you live on?

You learn patience or you stroke out.

On January 7, I received an email from Comforium. The cabinet that I ordered isn't in stock any more and there's not a date certain for restock. With Google translate in reserve, I initiated an online chat with Comforium. Cathey and I had gone up on the Comforium website and had found a cabinet substantially the same as the one that we had ordered but without windows in the doors. A little icon indicated that it was in stock. Fingers crossed...

Could we order that one instead? Reference number so-and-so...

Yes. it's in stock. I'll have customer service call you to confirm.

I'd really rather have them email me. I have trouble understanding French on the phone.

Noted.

Of course, within the hour, customer service called. But I got through it. Then came an email with a link to follow to track the order.

Meanwhile, Cdiscount sent me an email. Your refund should arrive within 72 hours. Hmmm. And yes, a couple of days later a full refund appeared in my bank account. The same day, the cabinet left Belgium. And yesterday I received a voicemail announcing delivery tomorrow between 13h00 and 15h00.

Will the cabinet arrive? Will the driver expect payment? If not, will either Comforium or Cdiscount realize that they've shipped me a free cabinet?

Stay tuned.

BREXIT AND TRUMP

Holy Shit! That's all. Just that. Holy Shit!



Comments

  1. Excellent Iro ,and totally true ,a mirror held up to Life in France ...plus if you try to shop locally on Saturdays ...take a shotgun !

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks to a faithful reader!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE IN FRANCE: SIMPLE PRIMER (WITH TONGUE IN MY AMERICAN CHEEK)

My recent reading of a poor internet review of a favorite restaurant of ours prompted this post. Some people simply should not be allowed internet access. Speech may rightly be free, but it shouldn't be worthless.

From reading the review, I could determine that the reviewer was a tourist who started out in a bad mood because he had to pay extra for parking a camper van that exceeded the maximum height for parking in the free lot. His party arrived at the restaurant at the end of lunch and without a reservation. At first, he was told that an empty table that he pointed out was reserved. When he persisted, he was informed that lunch was over. Since none of the other restaurants in town were still open, the reviewer had to miss lunch.

Let me count the ways...

RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY. Maybe not at Burger King, maybe not in a touristy restaurant in a touristy destination. But if you are really hungry, if you really want to try that restaurant that everybody's talking about, or …