< SWITCH ME >

Photo: Manuel J. Dolezal
E&M columnist Manuel Dolezal

My French girlfriend Claire and I went grocery shopping the other day, and as we walked down the street, we almost bumped into a tiny blue car which was blocking the pavement. I was in the middle of expressing my outrage at this flagrant violation of the traffic code when Claire’s face lighted up. "Oh look, this car is soooo cool", she exlaimed. "Later, I want to buy one of these!" Stunned, I took a closer look at the tiny blue car. It was a Peugeot, model 207, kind of round and with this ugly lion on the logo. As a future car, I was thinking more of an Audi, a BMW, a Mercedes. German quality, 100 percent Autobahn-proof.

When Claire and I arrived at the supermarket, I was determined to test her preferences for domestic products, too. You may say I was fishing for stereotypes, but I choose an area of genuine french expertise: cheese. At the cheese counter, I suddenly pushed to the front and ordered in a firm voice 250 grams of Handkäse. It’s not that I’m very fond of Handkäse, a German regional sour milk cheese from the city of Frankfurt. On the contrary, I’m disgusted by its toxic colour and its pungent aroma which only weird Hessians may appreciate. But my provocative strategy bore fruit. Claire looked at me in shock, and asked "And what about my Brie?"

I was reassured that in a transnational relationship you sometimes unconsciously champion products from your own country. This has nothing to do with the current protectionist tendencies in the looming economic crisis, but rather shows subtle patriotic consumer behaviour which everyone inherits. You just like the stuff you grew up with. For the record: I also bought the Brie, yielding to Claire’s vigorous protest. In fact, I ate most of it later myself and discreetly threw the disgusting Handkäse away.

Cover photo: Tobias Zog, www.youthphotos.eu

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