Soon after moving to New York, in the now distant aughts, I realized that being a French woman in the USA was an unexpectedly sweet deal. Having (wisely) arrived after the infamous freedom fries episode I can honestly say I have never experienced any hostility in relation to my being French in this country. To the contrary, the reactions I have encountered range from nice and friendly to over-the-top enamored with my Frenchness.
My distinct French accent, which I have made my peace with but am not found of, is lovely and “so chic” this side of the Atlantic. My way of dressing is seen as elegantly edgy. My cooking, especially my baking, is praised lavishly. Most people I meet award me a badge of connoisseurship for the only reason that I am a French woman. This is well illustrated by the above book cover I recently came across at one of my favorite bookstores in Cleveland, Appletree Books. Not fair, surely, but I’d lie if I said I never enjoy it!
Like with all the good things that come my way while I don’t particularly deserve them, I try not to feel entitled to my “French pass”. But it is sometimes tricky because I do feel French to my fingertips and I do genuinely believe that our culture and our way of life stand out in many ways. What’s a French woman to do? And the story continues as Minette‘s French side gets a lot of attention too. Her school’s French teacher asks her to come and talk to her middle schoolers who find her “so cute”. People with some command of French are delighted to strike a conversation with her. Nice life perk but also so much more than that. And it’s my job to help her figure it out.