“Everything’s bigger!” said the Frenchman next to me at Whole Foods holding an orange juice quart. And yes, it’s true, everything’s bigger here. Cars, buildings, beds, TVs, rooms, sinks and of course plates, glasses, bowls and anything food related. I can already hear some of you say with a big grin “the bigger the better” but is it truly?
All glasses are not made equal! When in France, you get to enjoy a tiny bit of orange juice for breakfast, which would probably equal half, maybe even a quarter, of the amount you would get for breakfast in the U.S. – especially since they don’t fill glasses up to the top over there. Same with plates since the U.S. diameters are much longer giving more room for food and more food to eat.
With my handy ruler, I went on a measuring trip and I think the following numbers will speak for themselves:
– regular glasses: 2.9 in. (7.5 cm) tall in France (up to 3.7 in.) – 5 in. (12.7 cm) tall in the U.S.
– regular glasses: 2.7 in. (7 cm) wide in France – 3.5 in. (8.8 cm) wide in the U.S.
– bowls: 4.9 in. (12.5 cm) wide in France – 6.5 in. (16.5 cm) wide in the U.S.
– regular plates: 9 in. (22.8 cm) wide in France – 11 in. (27.9 cm) wide in the U.S.
So what do we have here? Well, it looks like an obvious sizing up phenomenon has been culturally ingrained in the U.S. and has taken everything by storm – and by everything, I mean portions, recipes, food concepts, waistlines and the normality of what truly is an appropriate food size.
So let’s go back to that orange juice quart. My trusted Tropicana U.S. quart tells me that an appropriate serving size is 8 oz. (which equals 1 cup or 250 ml). My other trusted Tropicana French bottle on the other hand gives me all sorts of nutritional facts but does not include the serving size because it simply is not required in France. How come? Does it mean the French just don’t need to be told what an appropriate serving size is? Or does it mean they don’t need it… yet?
In any case, will the U.S serving size of 1 cup of juice fit in my 2.9 in. tall French glass? Mais non! It seems to me an American kid would get 1 cup of orange juice every morning while a French kid would get what looks like to be 1/2 cup of juice in a 2.9 in. tall glass and since glasses are not filled up to the top it’d truly be 1/3 cup. Well here’s something to meditate on!
While I feel like a giant every time I go home and sit at a table looking at my hand holding what looks like to be a glass coming straight from a doll house, it is interesting to know that most of my French peeps coming to my house always tell me their hands can barely fit around my glasses because of their width. Are we doomed to evolve into a species with bigger hands and longer fingers? E.T., is that you?