Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Formulating views on travel, cont.

Perhaps I would appreciate travel more if it weren't for the revolutions in mass communication and globalization.

First, take shopping while abroad. I've had some good experiences, such as with Petit Bateau T-shirts in France, which mercifully run large enough that I was able to fit into a little girl's size at least back in 2002. Yet much of the time, it's been disappointing. I blame globalization in part; a lot of interesting foreign stores have opened branches in the U.S. (I note that the PB site says it has branches in NY and Boston, and another is coming soon to Beverly Hills.) Second, it's increasingly easy to find interesting and unusual things to wear on the Internet. Like every other twenty-eight-year-old lawyer in the country, I get e-mails from Gilt advertising designer clothes at sharply discounted prices every day at noon; there's Etsy for unusual crafty items, both clothing and non-clothing-related; etc. The incentives to leave home get smaller and smaller.

Second, there's eating abroad. Argentinian meat -- what this country is best known for, culinarily -- is good. Yet it's the composed butters that are most amazingly and surprisingly delightful. Everywhere I go, there's butter for bread with something interesting mixed in it -- sundried tomatoes! tarragon! chives! -- etc. Contrast this with the United States, where olive oil (sometimes seasoned, but often not) seems the condiment of choice in trendy restaurants. Going condiment-less altogether also seems increasingly popular, which I find to be a travesty.

Yet again, though, it seems it's increasingly easy to get delicious and varied ethnic foods at home. It's true, I'm a bit unfairly lucky because I live in a part of the country that has an unusually rich array of ethnic dining options. And of course, this is a good development. But it is one that makes travel inherently less interesting.


  1. OK, pardon the comment-hogging... The shopping thing is a pet peeve of mine as well. The only gift I've ever purchased abroad that was really worth getting abroad, as opposed to just a souvenir, was a plastic raven (along these lines) I brought home for my parents from Germany. It really isn't something you can find just anywhere, although of course once you know something exists, you can always order it once you get home. (I brought the raven in a plastic bag on my flight, which I don't recommend. The beak kept poking through.)

    Food is much more of a reason to enjoy travel, I think, because of the foods that just plain don't exist back home (raw-milk cheese comes to mind, as does flan-in-pastry-crust) or does but costs far less abroad (only relevant if you already had to be abroad, or else the flights kind of cancel that out.) I'm sure that in places that aren't boring, old, Western, France, the possibilities are greater still.

    Finally, re: Petit Bateau, they have a sample sale on now in NY, which I suppose isn't much help if you're now in Argentina. Also, their sizing... This is something I've been trying to figure out, as I'm not even an XS in most clothes, yet am apparently a 14-year-old French girl at that store. Having seen 14-year-old French girls, I know my girth and theirs have little in common. This makes me suspect that it's all an elaborate form of vanity sizing, to make French (and why not American) women believe they still wear the same size as they did back in high school. I noticed that they intend the clothes in "teen" sizes for "les adultes," so clearly something fishy is going on. Wonderful t-shirts though.

  2. Please don't worry about comment hogging! I think probably everyone alive who writes on the Internet enjoys comments...

    I agree with you that the children's sizing gimmick is weird. Your explanation's as compelling as anything that I can think of.