Saturday, June 1, 2013


British television shows like Downton Abby and Mr. Selfridge allow us to see how Americans are perceived throughout the world. Being Americans we don't have that one thing, America, that people in other countries blame everything on.

In British novels or mini series, visiting Americans are often presented. They are the loud rude people who come in with their fancy cars and loud voices and their money and ruin things for the locals.

Europe before World War 2 and the influence of Americanization was a halcyon time. A man didn't have to listen to his wife for orders. He got his marching orders from his mother. His wife was content to stay at home, taking care of the children, and cooking family recipes, sewing curtains and otherwise maintaining traditions. The streets were full of small shops where you could visit and get the local news while buying your baguette.

Then Americanization came. Chain stores took over from the small shops. Women wanted to become Americans and work. Children stopped behaving and modeled themselves on Rusty Hammer in Make Room for Daddy. Coca-Cola. MacDonald's. Disney. Sky television. Shopping malls replacing the local markets.

Today in America, among the hip set, there is a desire to become more like an idealized Europe. We see farmers markets, craft fares, cooking classes, and even cute old world olive and cheese stores in the better districts of our cities. But Americanization continues as the croissant is being bastardized as the cronut. I wonder when they'll start eating cronuts in Marseilles.

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