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Yummy Muffins

Yummy Muffins

Do you know why I’m not a perfect woman? No, it’s not—only—because I like muffins (a lot). It’s a much deeper secret. Still don’t know?

Let me put in simply. I’m French. And I’m a lousy cook.

Hey, hey, don’t put all the blame on me! Have you ever tried grocery shopping in a foreign world? First, there’s the vocabulary. French love their Crème Fraîche and I know quite a few recipes with it. I looked for “Fresh Cream’ for days, till some kind soul directed me to the sour cream aisle. How was I supposed to know “fresh” was “sour” here?

Then, the not-so-metric system. A pound of potatoes. Sure, how many kilos is that? Yep, “they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is… “. And I have to cook my pizza for 26 minutes, oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Whatever that is. Canadians use both metric and imperial systems (sometimes even in the same sentence). I miss by miles (ah ah!) most of time… “Well, a Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac”

Finally, even if I could find the same ingredients, they wouldn’t be the same. I sobbed over cakes failing to rise, botched by Canadian flour, I cried over some bread I bought which went hard as a rock the next day and mayonnaise… mayonnaise isn’t just the same.

No worries, we won’t starve. After all, this is North America, the land of plenty blah blah blah. Food is everywhere, even if you’re not hungry.

Fast food, for a start. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, A&W etc. etc. Names, just names. I tried them all. I felt that I had to, just to overcome years of French brainwashing about fast food which destroy the food industry, kill innocent animals like rats and slave young people like me. Verdict? The food is gross, the French were right. The grossest of all probably being KFC, which made me avoid all chicken products for several weeks after buying one of their meals. Who enjoys eating deep fried food out of a greasy bucket? This is beyond my understanding. While my diet isn’t probably the best at times, it is also beyond my understanding why people keep on buying beverage they can swim in, and food that give them instant heart-attacks. Can’t you feel your arteries begging for mercy, clogging as you swallow a triple bacon-cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut? No? Well, you should.

Fortunately, most of the fast-food extravaganza is US only. We, in Canada, just hang out at Timmies. What, you don’t know Tim Hortons? The great Canadian cultural fixture? Tim Horton’s, which sells brown water (= burning hot coffee) and pastries (that is donuts, donuts’ dough dubbed as “Tim bits”, left-over donuts etc.). Tim Horton’s can be found just about anywhere: airports, downtown, suburbs, gas stations… Frankly, I’m surprised I don’t have a Tim Horton’s in my kitchen yet. If you don’t have a Tim Horton’s in your town, it means the federal government secretly sold you to the USA. But no matter how many Tim Horton’s we have, there’s always a huge line-up, both inside the store and at the drive-through, where people quietly (after all, we’re Canadians) wait for their “double-double” and sour cream glazed timbits. Canadian crack, I’m telling ya.

But since I work full-time in a very respectable industry (I whip students with a lash to make them learn French, if you wondered), I can now afford restaurants. Proper ones.

Canada, like many English countries, happily acknowledges that it doesn’t really have a cuisine and welcomes immigrants in order to have nice restaurants. Therefore, we’re more likely to eat Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Russian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, French etc. food than poutine. Lucky us! Restaurants are usually pretty affordable, plus you improve your foreign vocabulary at the same time.

But they are times when I have to cook, and frankly, it’s not as bad as a French-Italian like me could have thought. Canada has some great ingredients, like maple syrup, a nice sweetener for yogurt or a spread for pancakes and bread. The bacon is usually pretty tasty (that’s one thing France doesn’t have… only thing available is lardon) and Canadian cheese are well worth a try. The salmon is great and pretty cheap, and so is the smoked meat. A bagel is better than a baguette. And I’ll kill for a butter tart or sugar pie (yes it’s a sweet as it sounds).

Moi, betraying French cuisine? Oh well. Between us, I’ve never been a fan of the 30€ plate with three green beans and a piece of meat the size of my thumb.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I aint French but I love muffins and I dun cook all that well, but I truly believe both u and I are ‘puuurrrfect’ women 😉 HUGGGGGGGGZ!


  2. Have you seen the blurb on Canadian “cuisine” on Wikipedia? Moose and poutine just don’t have the sex appeal of anything with a sexy little French sobriquet. Even if it’s just Le Big Mac.

  3. You evil girl! Now I’m craving poutine! I LOVE POUTINE!!!! And I always bring maple syrup back to the USA from home. My sister & her husband make it.

  4. Bagels better than baguettes? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Yes you just betrayed the French lol.
    No really, I’m very open in food and I can eat almost everything but if there was ONE thing I would miss if permanently living abroad is a good crusty French baguette!
    Oh and you mix up what is called nouvelle cuisine where you indeed pay more for the plate itself rather than what’s inside and the traditional French cuisine which is usually quite stuffy. You were too young when you left your country hehe

  5. I’m always available for metric / imperial conversions via email. 🙂

    And, Timmies … *pft* we have Dunkin’ Donuts. 😛

  6. I’m a fan of Timmy’s too! I didn’t realize it was a Canadian fixture until someone pointed out to me that Timmy’s aren’t available further south. It’s just that we are so close to the border that it is found here in Buffalo.

    By the way, did you know that the real Tim Horton died in the QEW a couple decades back? I think it was an accident of some sort.

    And, no offense, but I always had trouble with fresh cream too. I know how to cook, and I used to use my mom’s huge cookbooks, and I simply couldn’t pronounce that! Cream fra-SHAY? Why does the French language delete so much letters? Like the town Chartres? I had read a novel which was set in France, and I was talking to my adviser who happens to be French, and I was saying something about char-TRAY, but he couldn’t understand it, up to the point that he asked me to spell it, and voila! Finally he got what I was trying to say.

  7. Timmies sounds like a Canadian version of Quick to me….but I liked quick as it was one of the few places I could get something vegetarian. Club Trois Fromage was my lunch for many an evening in Paris. Fast food may not be great, but its nice and easy on the pocket, especially if you are travelling on a shoestring budget.

  8. Hi dear ZHU,
    I was busy last day but here I am again…..

    hahahahaha! Shall I laugh?
    boohoohoohoo! Or shall I cry?
    Yes?no! Yes! no? anyway yes its a ‘problem” food-fast-food-slow-food, Freanch-food, Italian-food, Dutch-food. USA-food,Canadian-food…. NO!! I think there is no esspecial food anymore ,its NOW International FOOD-Kitchen, Yes its ashame or not? In France you have great white bread and croissants, but here in Holland its NOT the same but they call it French bread, Or…. The Mac Donalds here is alike in the USA but not as the Timmies in Canada…

    About coffee: The French espresso and coffeebrands “Lavazza” for example or “illy” are great, so are the Italian brands. USA or canadian ‘coffeewater” sucks. But when you go to a shops where they sell fresh coffeebeans than you can better make your own coffee at home in an italian of French coffeemaker…

    One thing is international in all kitchens and restaurants, I love vegetables… but when I go out for dinner whatever restaurant, they serve only a teaspoon of veggies ‘under fat sauces’ YAK!

    Enough! enough, when I go (live)abroad I always tried to find the best from their food, coffee or else, from that countrie, I think every countrie has its own speciality… Don’t you think so? I know so but its hard thoug….

    Greetings from JoAnn….a DUTCH traveller-trotter , I lived in the USA and in ITaly and now living in Holland.

    Pssst! You know what is really international and everywhere the SAME? IKEA (fourniture shop) yes!!! really…BYE!

  9. SilverNeurotic on

    Actually, there are Tim Horton’s here in the US, but only in the New England states…non around here, we depend on dunken doughnuts.

  10. Trotter: don’t like maple syrup?

    Keshi: no doubt we are indeed perfect 😎

    Madame M.: yeah, I read it… I just don’t see the big deal. Another language battle in Canada I guess!

    Spyder: I’m actually not a big fan of Poutine, well, it’s not the best in Ottawa. Maple syrup anytime though :mrgreen:

    Froogiewoggie: good baguettes, yeah… miss it. But I haven’t had a good one in ages. So bagel does the trick meanwhile!

    I know I exaggerate a bit. My friend would kill me for that, she likes French cuisine best. I do too… but hey, I forgot how good it was, must be the explanation. I’d kill for a crêpe though.

    Ghosty: alright, I’ll email you next time! Seriously, these conversions drive me nuts 🙄

    Art: agreed!

    Linguist In Waiting: French has a weird pronounciation, can’t disagree! It’s more like “kra-m fr-a-sch” (bad phonetics!). I can’t get used to Timmies café… can you? Oh, and “Char-tr” 😉

    Mayank: Nah, Quick is still a fast food… maybe more a version of some cheap franchised bakeries. 😉

    JoAnn: I agree, brown hot water dubbed as café sucks big time! I stopped drinking coffee in Canada, I was getting frustrated.

    Silverneurotic: yes, I had heard Timmies are south of the border too… Watch out for the Canadian invasion!

    Jay Cam: I have yet to find an American who can!

  11. It’s been a pleasure catching up on your blog. Each post has been interesting to go through. I shall endeavor to pass by more often.

    And you write so well, perfect woman. Keep smiling. 🙂

  12. Hiya Zhu,

    Thanks for dropping by at my last post 😀

    Hey, we went to Niagara Falls after my operation that week and yes was in Tim Hortons for breakfast – EXPENSIVE!!!!

    I love muffins too pal,


  13. Oh My God! Tim Horton’s! My ex-wife was from Saskatchewan and the first time I flew up there from Chicago to visit her family I went to Tim Horton’s and tried to order a 4 shot, non-fat latte! HAHAHAHAHAHA. It got oddly quiet in Tim’s that day. Oddly quiet. 😉

  14. Hahaha, don’t they say French cuisine is one of the best in the world?

    Perhaps it’s the combination of a variety of food that makes something special..

    Besides, I love the Iron Chef French hehe

  15. i loved this post. I can’t cook either…then again, I’m a mexican male…I ran across the border and pick lettuce for a living. (tongue & cheek)

  16. I don’t fancy fastfood but I love french fries..
    But i gonna hop over the MacD again, for another serving of Prosperity Meal which is only available during Chinese New Year period. hehehehhehe… 😆

  17. Celine: thank you so much! Kind words are always nice to read… so, stopped being on the road for a while?

    Shionge: I’m glad you got to see a bit of Canada anyway after the accident, hope you got to enjoy it despite everything.

    Gary: Timmies in Saskatchewan? I bet you felt like you were in the third dimension! 😆 What a Canadian experience! If you’re interested to open some Timmies franchises in HK let me now 😉

    Feng: feels weird to call you Feng, my hubby’s name is Feng 😉 Anyway, French food is good, I must say. Yet, I love Chinese cuisine, Italian treats, Canadian maple syrup…

    Sir Jorge: what? Are you saying male Mexican can’t cook? Oh oh… I’m gonna tell your wife 😆

    Chen: I’d love to taste the Prosperity meal actually… just don’t tell my French friends!

  18. Hey ZHU,
    What do you like to write onto the sand (of the beach) I ‘ll do it for you….. Do you know that in Paris and in Rotterdam (holland) they made a summerbeach in the city? Yes! Ask the state Ottawa to do the same!! You might win a price (for original idea) with this suggestion, and a lot people will like it….

    Look at my blog how the people in AMSTERDAM, make the best of the little space they have there… I just posted a picture, they also make little garden by getting 1 stone out of the walkingarea… Greta ehh?

    Have a great weekend my friend! 🙂 JoAnn from Holland

  19. Alexander: hey, I meant to ask you: I can’t find the feed for your blog and I keep on forgetting to visit blogs that aren’t in my reader… have an address for it?

    JoAnn: write anything for me, like “Zhu will come to see you soon”! 😆

    I have never been to Paris’ summer beach actually because I used to spend my holidays at the seaside. We have small beaches in Ottawa but there are by the river… not the same.

    Wapentake: I know! Also a sign of a lot of garbage in the streets…

  20. For a moment back there I thought this post was going to be about the early 1970’s output of archetypal British progressive rock band Genesis and their seminal concept piece of the eponymous title about the apocalypse, the supper of the title being the legendary last supper, of course.


    David Bradleys last great read…Water, Water, Everywhere

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