One of the hardest things for me to adjust to during that time was the hours that we spent eating meals in France and Switzerland. To an American teenager -- used to trying desperately to get high school cafeteria lunches eaten fast enough to be able to go by my locker and pick up what I needed for afternoon classes -- those meals seemed to go on forever. I suffered through them .... and then of course when I was back in the States again I found myself missing them. Those same meals that made me frantic in the 1950s are now some of the memories that I most treasure. I was therefore startled when I read this section of a New York Times article by Elaine Scioliono titled "France Battles a Problem That Grows and Grows: Fat:"
"Findus, the frozen food giant best known for its breaded, frozen fish filets, filmed French people eating over a period of time and was shocked by the results. Contrary to the myth that the French spend hours sitting around the table savoring small portions of several courses, the films showed them eating in front of their television sets, while on the telephone and even alone. In fact, the average French meal, which 25 years ago lasted 88 minutes, is just 38 minutes today."
That's amazing; my French in-laws, and my French husband, would have found it impossible to believe.
All the fuss the French have been making about the "contamination" caused by the borrowing of American English words and phrases, and all the while, the real Americanization was going on at their tables!
The article is at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/25/international/europe/25obese.html . My thanks to Douglas Dee for alerting me to it.