Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Let's Have A Food Fight'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Let's Have A Food Fight ~

Let's Have A Food Fight, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

BONUS: For Street Photography Fans!


Admittedly, while I'm publishing a picture of a lamppost here today I'd rather have been showing you a guy on rollerblades in mid-air somewhere between the top of the steps of Sacré Coeur and the gardens below. I'd rather have been but I'm not, so I'll have to leave one or two good friends to fulfil that role for you.

Nope, high-flyers are not for us today, but low-growlers, in the form of 'France Action Jeunesse', as publicised on this friendly local neighbourhood lighting device.

It caught my eye for several reasons. First of all, it's bright and colourful, which is always a good start. Secondly, it's unashamedly nationalist, whilst simultaneously stigmatising both the Americans and Islam, which is much less common.

The first paragraph on their web site's 'Qui sommes-nous?' page goes something like this (my translation):

"We are Valdoisians [from the Valley of the Oise river, just to the south of the capital], attached to traditional values, such as religion and patriotism, glorifying the family and the work of each person, practising mutual assistance, respect and practice of the traditions and customs of our lands."

What we are to make of this I'm not sure. Most politically motivated tracts stuck up by 'the young' in and around Paris these days tend to be resolutely republican, not to say revolutionary or anarchistic in message. This one, however, whilst certainly nationalistic, kind of throws a spanner into the works with its up-front mention of religion, which is generally considered anathema to your average revolutionary and symbols thereof tend to get roughed up or torn down in the same swipe as royalist monikers of any kind.

So they're royalists then? And yet they make no mention of 'king' and country, just plenty about the country bit.

It's refreshingly thought-provoking to see Americans and Muslims both being negatively stereotyped as destroyers of the good ol' French ham sandwich through the evil dollar-churning burger or the sinister kebab. This would all be quite logical if they were both being held up as examples of the ludicrousness and excesses of religion ("Our God's the best" - "No, OURS is..."). Unfortunately, however, it seems that 'France Youth Action' seem to think that God (a new one with 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité' tattooed across his chest and his beard dyed bleu-blanc-rouge, perhaps) is actually on the side of the jambon et beure baguette munchers.

Oh dear. My personal take on all this is too confused to articulate. My opinion, on the other hand, I will share here.

I don't like the idea of burgers because of what we read about the conditions of the cows and chickens used to make them and the poor health aspects of the things. Unfortunately, for whatever reason or other (cheap, apparently tasty, convenient - on every street corner...) I succumb on far too regular a basis.

I don't like the idea of kebabs too much either because you never really know what you're eating or the conditions in which the meat has been stored but again, it tastes pretty good and is equally cheap and just a little, well, less 'American' than a burger. As to the rituals used to kill meat fit for Muslim consumption, well unfortunately even companies like KFC are apparently killing their chickens with a swift throat slit in the general direction of Mecca (even if we know that isn't practicable, but they've luckily found a way to 'do' the whole establishment in one go - phew!). So more hypocrisy on my part I guess.

And then there's the good ol' jambon-beurre. Frankly, I hardly ever take the basic option, as fromage is too deeply rooted in my religious views to be ignored, so it's a jambon-fromage-beurre for me, s'il vous plaît.

Do I believe that French piggies are healthier than US beef and chickens or Islamic... well, whatever it is? Maybe. Do I worry about the encroaching Islamo-Americanisation of the staple Gallic lunchtime munch? No, not really, traditional sandwiches still fly off the shelves of all the boulangeries I frequent as far as I can see. Do I feel that food extremism of any kind, be it mass-produced American mush, ritually killed Islamic ignominy or even the sadly minimalist ham-and-butter baguette is not a particularly good thing? Yes, I think I do.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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