Moving to Montreal was a life changing experience for the better. I have discovered so many things here that I might not have, had I stayed in NYC, and I have fallen in love with them. The terraces, the fresh bread, biking, the cheese curds (!?!) are all things that, while they may have been available in NY, I never took advantage of- perhaps because they weren’t a part of the culture. Allowing local culture to dictate one’s behaviour is almost always a good idea, but as I found out this morning, culture clash can happen in the unlikeliest of places.
There are people who travel, not to experience where they’ve gone but to say where they been. You know, the “Ugly Americans”. Those who cannot for the life of them understand why the waiter in Paris will not speak English, nor why the Egyptian woman cringes as they yell at her to be understood. On the other hand, when traveling, as a rule, I try to avoid things that I can get at home. Notice I said try: I’ve had McDonald’s in the UK, a Coke in South America and Corn Pops in Canada. Corn Pops has been a weakness since childhood. Corn Pops is therapy in a box. Better than sex (that is, if your not having sex anyway). Oh my Corn Pops, WHAT THE HELL HAVE THEY DONE TO YOU, EH!!!
I bought a box of Pops as a reward for mailing a letter I’d been sitting on for a while (it was an important letter, I don’t often reward myself for accomplishing the banal!). I noticed immediately that the shape was different, more like Kix or Cocoa Puffs than the puffed exaggerated corn shape I am used to, but the colour was right so I poured the milk. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, yes you can, and you should; and if it looks wrong – it probably is. And it was. It tasted like… likeâ€¦ maple.
I know that Canada is kinda into this maple theme it has going. There’s maple flavoured everything- sausage, pasta, ice cream, soda. There are more Maple streets and lanes and boulevards and apartments than you can swing a dead cat at (add to that the French “érable” in Quebec). There’s the hockey team, and the flag andâ€¦ jaysus, weren’t they busy enough with all the other maple stuff to leave my cereal alone!
I don’t mean to sound like one of “those” Americans, but there is a reason McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are available throughout the world and why people gravitate to them- because their familiarity is comforting. That’s why, when you go to Italy, the Cokes don’t taste like espresso or, in Vietnam, like fish. A Coke is a Coke wherever you are!
If you go to the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta (which I have), you can sample different Coca-Cola products from all over the world (which I haveâ€¦*burrrrp*), like papaya soda and grass soda (yes, it tastes like a bubbly lawn). They make other products to reflect the tastes of the local culture. Therefore, CORN POPS SHOULD TASTE LIKE CORN POPS WHEREVER THEY ARE SOLD! Or, and I’m giving Canada this idea for free as a compromise, there should be Maple Pops (Ã‰clats d’Ã‰rable, pour mes homies Québecois).
So if you want to make Cricket Pops in South East Asia or Borscht Pops in Eastern Europe or effing Maple Pops in Canada- GO AHEAD! But when you offer a national product internationally, it should taste like home! Now I know how the Irish feel when they drink Guinness in North America.
I’m breakfast cereal jaded, and that is just sad.
Image by Foxy