Colorado cuisine inspiration

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I'm in Paris for a few days, and walking a few hundred meters to dinner with friends last night I happened to pass a couple of indications of the influence of American culture on vernacular food in France. One was a small sandwich shop offering "hod dogs", and another was this illuminated sign on the side of a bus-stop shelter:

It's interesting that the advertisement's version of the French stereotype of American food is centered on Colorado Springs:


  1. chips mackinolty said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 7:20 am

    Not to mention the wonderfully named Cripple Creek. But perhaps the health warning sums it up best: Pour votre santé, pratiquez une activité physique régulière.

  2. Alan Palmer said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 7:35 am

    Just curious: are those health warnings mandatory in France for this type of food? In the UK we have them on cigarette packets and booze adverts, but not 'junk food', although they would be a great idea IMHO.

  3. RP said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 8:24 am

    In his book "Contre la pensée unique" the French linguist Claude Hagège relates with regret that if you try to order a "burger au fromage" in France you often get blank looks, whereas "un cheeseburger" works just fine. Perhaps more surprisingly, he also says that if you go in a health-food shop and ask for "jus de canneberge" there's a good chance they won't know what you're talking about, whereas if you ask for "jus de cranberry" they'll recognise instantly what you're asking for.

    [(myl) And despite the best efforts of the language planners, "tracteur à lame horizontale" continues to lose out to "bulldozer".]

  4. Victor Mair said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 8:42 am

    And right below Cripple Creek is Victor.

  5. cameron said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 10:49 am

    A local legislator here in New York has proposed putting warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks. I agree that junk food warning labels would be a good idea.

  6. Coby Lubliner said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 11:49 am

    When I lived in France many years ago, bacon was more like what Americans call "Canadian bacon" while American bacon was called something like lard de poitrine fumée. Things seem to have changed, at least at McDo.

  7. Jim said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

    "When I lived in France many years ago, bacon was more like what Americans call "Canadian bacon" "

    Which is "gammon", isn't it? So even then the usage was American.

  8. cameron said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

    @Jim, "Canadian bacon" is a smoked back bacon; "gammon" refers to a leg cut. In the US gammon would probably just be referred to as "ham" – I don't think most Americans even know the word gammon.

  9. Victor Mair said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 5:05 pm

    Earl Scruggs And Lester Flatt – Cripple Creek

    This one from The Band seems to be in Louisiana:

    There's also this Appalachian folksong that apparently refers to a Cripple Creek in Virginia:

  10. Cuconnacht said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

    Victor Mair: Buffy St Marie recorded that Appalachian version of Cripple Creek accompanying herself on the mouth bow (a sort of Jew's harp).

  11. Cuconnacht said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

    But now that I listen to the link, I see that Flatt and Scruggs are also olaying that tune.

  12. ErikF said,

    February 12, 2015 @ 8:37 pm

    I find it interesting that they used a map with English text in the background instead of one with French; maybe this was to lend a bit of verisimilitude? (The cynic in me thinks that it's just a recycled ad from the States.)

  13. AntC said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 12:48 am

    @ErikF no, no. "Recette inspiree des Etats-Unis" it says in the small print. They're proud of it being American.

  14. AntC said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 12:50 am

    … must be because the French have no word for cachet [George W Bush, attrib.]

  15. Michael Dunn said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 1:49 am

    The road from Victor to Cripple Creek is one i know, but I'm not sure you can get a cheeseburger on it.

  16. Riikka said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 3:10 am

    Strange enough, the first town name I noticed was 'Florence'. I had to look for the other ones mentioned.

  17. John Swindle said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 4:56 am

    @Riikka: Florence, Colorado, and Florence, Arizona, are both best known for their prisons. The location of prisons in two towns named "Florence" a thousand kilometers apart is presumably a coincidence. The US federal prison in Florence, Colorado, is famous and frightening; but Florence, Arizona, according to Wikipedia, has a total of nine county, state, federal, and privatized prisons!

  18. Victor Mair said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 7:37 am

    Cripple Creek and Victor jumped out at me, but I had to look for Florence, hiding down there near the edge of the bottom slice of bread.

    I used to correspond with prisoners all over the country who read my translation of the Tao Te Ching and wanted me to be their guru. A number of them (including several murderers) were housed in one or another of the prisons of the two Florences mentioned by John Swindle. I even knew one guy who was transferred from a Florence, Arizona prison to the Florence, Colorado prison. Except for the most hardened, none of them wanted to be in the Florence, Colorado prison. They all spoke of it with dread. One of them (a double murderer) even tried to get me involved in elaborate schemes to have him transferred from the Florence, Arizona prison to a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

  19. Keith said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 8:48 am

    I think that adverts for just about all food and drink products in France have to carry a statement and a link to the site "".

    There are several rules governing food advertisements; these are based on the type of food, the typical consumer, the target audience and the advertising medium. For all the gory details, look at the links below.

    In general, "bacon" here in France is what in the US is known as "Canadian bacon": it has practically no visible fat and is sold in round slices. But when it is for putting in burgers, it's in strips (rashers) with much more fat. This is, as Cory pointed out, called "lard" or "poitrine", and it can be smoked or unsmoked.

    Interestingly, most French people (at least in my experience) don't know that "bacon" started out as a French word, and don't understand me when I pronounce it as /bɑ.kɔ̃/; they pronounce it as /be.kɔn/ or /be.kœn/, yet there are thousands of people whose family name is "Baconnier", and the Roman de Renart uses the term "bacon". It's one of those words that has crossed the channel to England, had a life of its own over there, and has then come back to France. But instead of being received like the prodigal son, it is still though of as being a foreign word, loved by some and shunned by others.

    I regularly buy cranberry juice. The bottom end of the market for cranberry juice (usually nastily sweet juices containing a majority of apply and grape with a small amount of cranberry) tends to use the name "Cranberry", while the better juices (100% cranberry) are marked "canneberge" or (occasionally) "airelle".

  20. ponfed said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 10:03 am

    @RP : Cheeseburger is pretty well established. Burger isn't french either and the French tend not to think of the yellow melty thing as cheese anyways. So while people will understand "Burger au fromage", it sounds weird and people are going to wonder if you really want a cheeseburger or some new hipster thing.

    Cranberry is another story. I have a feelling cranberries weren't really consummed, or particularly known in France until American agro business started marketing it world wide.

    In Quebec for instance, canneberge is always used for cranberry products in french. (Atoka is widely used in common parlance, but almost never on packaging or marketing products),
    Of course, cranberries have been consummed by Europeans in what is now Quebec probably before Plymouth Rock.

  21. Ben Hemmens said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 11:41 am

    Cripple creek I knew from this song performed by Bob Dylan:

    "Up in the Rocky Mountains in a town called Cripple Creek
    There was an all-night poker game, lasted about a week
    Nine hundred miners had laid their money down
    When Willie finally left the room, he owned the whole damn town …"

  22. John Swindle said,

    February 13, 2015 @ 10:28 pm

    Here's the chorus of another one.

    "Oh the big bad man he was a desperado/ From Cripple Creek, way down in Colorado,/ And he walked around like a big tornado,/ And everywhere he went he gave his war whoop."

    Heard in Kansas before 1960. The pronunciation of "desperado" and "Colorado" was changed to rhyme with "tornado." Lyrics varied. The tune I learned doesn't seem to be on the Web.

  23. Alex said,

    February 14, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

    That's a Rand McNally Road Atlas map, by the way. I'm wondering if this was taken from an ad for Rand McNally.

  24. Darryl said,

    February 18, 2015 @ 12:18 am

    Far too late on this (mixed blessing of the RSS reader) but I would LOVE a mock etymology of the "hod dog" explaining its origin in a split bun inspired by the namesake mortar-and-bricks toter.

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