anna brones

writer + artist

Posts Tagged ‘France

Paris vs. New York: The Video

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I have always loved the Paris vs. New York print series, a simple representation of the difference between the two cosmopolitan capitals. This video pulls it all together.

Written by Anna Brones

September 27, 2012 at 06:00

Sometimes You Need a Little Yelle

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Having a bit of France withdrawal this week… fortunately there’s Yelle.

Written by Anna Brones

August 30, 2011 at 18:33

America’s Foodie Reputation

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A surprising discovery when I lived in France was L’Americain. In the land of gourmet cheeses and perfected baguettes, food is more than something that you just consume for nourishment; it’s art. Which is why I was a little shell-shocked the first time I came acrossL’Americain, a late night favorite, post-pop music dance party, made up of a baguette stuffed with hamburger meat, french fries and ketchup.

If the French vision of American food had been unclear before, after this particular sandwich run in, it was very clear. For the French, there was no point in glorifying this version of junk street food, when they could just call it what they thought it represented: America.

As a nation, we have often been at the bottom of the list of culinary tradition. Sure, at home we’ve created a foodie culture and mastered combining dishes from around the world, but abroad, there remains a view that we’re all about pizza, hot dogs and chips. Our global foodie reputation is defined more by sugar and fat than by local ingredients with a cosmopolitan twist.

In fact, enter any “American” food store in another country and you’ll get a handful of classic ingredients. I’ve seen everything from swirled jars of peanut butter and jelly to marshmallow cream (things my American counterparts would never dream of buying at home), and much less abroad. But the international crowd loves this stuff. One of my best Swedish friends has specifically requested that next time I come visit she wants Reese’s Miniatures and several bags of Sour Patch Kids.

What is it that has made the rest of the world crave some of our most terrible exports and glaze over our more respectable creations? You don’t see Alice Waters shrines or bookshelves stocked with Mark Bittman translations abroad, but you’ll most certainly come across a sampling of the following.


McDonald’s has swept the world like a virus, but it’s not just Big Macs that have made their way around the world. Grab an “American” menu in Southeast Asia and you’re sure to find some version of a meat patty wrapped in a bun. For some reason this American classic has other people hooked, albeit poor spellings on menus and misconceptions of what a bun should look like.


It’s not just chips in general, but there’s something about “once you pop you can’t stop,” that has seduced the international consumer. Turns out they’re marketed in at least a hundred countries and bring in $1 billion in sales. Sure, in other countries the packaging is often smaller,  because other places know better than to serve up ten servings in one container that we’re sure to down in a single sitting — but those brightly colored canisters with the goofy, mustached man are all over the place.

Mediocre – yet complicated – coffee drinks

Leave it to the global coffee chain Starbucks to make it perfectly acceptable to order a caramel machiatto in countries where coffee consumption is holy. The result is, well, abhorrent. Thanks to the chain it’s trendy to cruise the streets of Paris with a disposable cup and you can now buy Frappacinos in Guatemala. The company’s new instant product alone was responsible for $100 million in global sales last year.

Peanut Butter

It seems like such a staple product and yet for many it’s a luxury. Some love it and some hate it, but peanut butter to Europeans is just as exotic as caviar and foie gras are to many Americans. Try tracking it down outside of the U.S. and you’ll have a difficult time, and yet somehow, everyone knows about it. A former, very typical French roommate of mine (he wouldn’t dream of keeping his smelly cheeses in the refrigerator), thought there was nothing better on his weekend brioche than some good old Jiffy, imported by friends of course.

But forget our foodie reputation for a second.

Although it would be great to be known for all the fantastic, organic and healthy items that many American chefs whip up on a daily basis, wanting to be respected for our food culture is almost a little vain. What we should be more concerned with is how we’re physically impacting the rest of the world.

With obesity rates skyrocketing around the world, and often attributed to imported food, maybe it’s time we took a step back and asked ourselves what we want our global food influence to be.

Hot dogs and high fructose corn syrup? Changing what’s on our plates at home has a larger influence than we may think.

Originally published here.

Written by Anna Brones

March 31, 2011 at 07:07

Today I’m Dreaming Of…

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La vie en français.

Un café crème.

Une promenade au soleil.


Written by Anna Brones

February 8, 2011 at 17:43

Posted in Photography, Travel

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French Flavor: Camille

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Camille is one of my favorite French pop singers; love this video for her song Ta Douleur on the album Le Fil. Her latest album, Le Sac Des Filles, is another excellent collection, perfect for warm spring afternoons. Or for dreaming about being in France with a good cafe au lait

Written by Anna Brones

April 16, 2009 at 12:06

Paris Bike-share Program Vélib is Getting Even Bigger

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It was revolutionary. Bike blogs, sustainability gurus and national news outlets all gave ample to time to Paris when the city launched its commendable Vélib bike-sharing program. A year and a half later, the existing fleet of bicycles is expanding, ready to take over the suburbs.

The program is so popular with Parisians that “Velib” was the 2nd most popular Google search. So with an additional 300 stations and 3,300 not renting a bicycle while touring Paris just won’t be an option, and ça, c’est super!

[Via Bike-sharing Blog]

Written by Anna Brones

February 3, 2009 at 09:00

Sounds of Travel: Air’s ‘Ce Matin La’

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My latest Sounds of Travel is up over at Gadling. I wrote about one of my favorite bands and songs, Ce Matin La by the French duo Air. It’s hard to listen to it without being put in a good mood.

Here’s an excerpt:

For me, traveling music has to provide a good background. It has to to flow with your up and down emotions, fit a variety of situations, but be distinct enough that it brings back memories when you return home. For that reason, in my last post I wrote about St. Germain, which is one of my favorite artists to listen to while traveling. Along those same lines comes Air, another electronica-inspired group that hails from France.

As I wrote about St. Germain, music like this immediately takes me back to living in France; I can envision the first time and place that I listened to either of these two groups. But Air is a little more than that, the duo’s second album Moon Safari has become my traveling soundtrack — no matter what the destination — and my song of choice is Ce Matin La.

To read the whole post click here.

Written by Anna Brones

December 6, 2008 at 12:57

Sounds of Travel: St. Germain’s ‘So Flute’

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b00004syz802lzzzzzzzOver at Gadling we’re doing a series called the Sounds of Travel, featuring music that we’ve either discovered while traveling or that reminds us of traveling. Last week I wrote an article on “So Flute” by the French band St. Germain (they’re one of my all time favorites). Here’s a little preview:

France. This is a country known for its music. The stereotypical accordion tunes from atop Montmartre embodied in the soundtrack of Amélie, the ballads of Edith Piaf, and the intense lyrics of adopted icon Jacques Brel (he was actually Belgian, but the French like him so much they seem to forget). But beyond those symbolic melodies that scream French roots, there’s another side to French music. One that is much more urban, cosmopolitan and chic. It’s the smooth, electro-jazz, slightly funky sounds of contemporary bands like St. Germain.

Read the rest of it, and watch a video of “So Flute,” here.

Written by Anna Brones

November 18, 2008 at 09:18

Stuff Parisians like…

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It only took a little bit before people started knocking off the popular Stuff White People Like — the author did get a very expensive book deal after all. But I think I just came across my favorite one: Stuff Parisians Like. Maybe it’s having lived in France, maybe it’s having a good friend living in Paris or maybe it’s just liking cultural stereotypes, but this blog really is pretty funny.

An excerpt from “Compaining”:

While the French have gained a much deserved reputation for complaining a lot, Parisians take this art to a higher level. In Paris, enthusiasm is considered a mild form of retardation. If you are happy, you must be stupid. On the other hand, if you complain, you must be smart.

A beautiful Parisian syllogism is at hand here: the person who complains is the person who spotted the problem. The person who spotted the problem is the smart person. Therefore, the person who complains is the smart person.

Love it…

Written by Anna Brones

August 11, 2008 at 19:43

Happy Bastille Day

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Unfortunately I missed out on the Portland Bastille Day festivities this weekend, but I will make up for it by doing my own personal “quatorze juillet” celebration on my own this evening… Need tips on how to best celebrate the French national day? Go here. Hint: it includes drinking French wine, eating French cheese and possibly singing La Marseillaise.

[and I apologize for the quality of the photo… it’s from the study abroad archives; something that I had to scan in because it was taken in film form!]

Written by Anna Brones

July 14, 2008 at 12:00

Posted in Bike Love, Portfolio

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