French People: They’re Just Like Us! (Almost.)


Cretons on toast: The last vestige of the two solitudes

Quebec, so the stereotype goes, is home to two warring tribes, one big and poor, one small and rich. The former (French) has lived in semi-perpetuity under the jackboot of the latter (English), and once upon a time it would have been an insult to both to suggest that they share any sort of commonality. To be fair, it’s muted a fair bit –– the wars between the two have been about as quiet as our revolution — but we’ve nonetheless lived with the fumes of this absurdity for years. There are twits on both sides, and they continue to bitch and moan, and we continue to ignore them. To be honest, it makes it kind of fun. Beats living in Kingston, anyway.

Now, an august psychological publication has sniffed away at Quebec’s fractured psyche and discovered that, well, it ain’t all that fractured after all. In a paper published in the Journal of Social Psychology (report not available online), researchers at (the cough, cough, très Anglo) Bishop’s University surveyed 50 English and 50 French people from Quebec between the ages of 16 and 64 –– an interesting bracket, to be sure, as it includes everyone from typically apathetic teenagers to aging baby boomer veterans of the worst of Quebec’s linguistic chicanes. The results? Apart from a few minor differences, they have virtually the same values and stances as one another. Take that, Mr. Two Solitudes.

“The [two groups] showed that they defend their rights, do not let themselves be walked over and tend to be fighters,” one author told La Presse’s André Noel. Still, though, “the two groups are more emotionally stable than neurotic”, the report notes, and share the same openness for others. “They are also hard workers, attentive, meticulous and agreeable.” Yay, us.

While dispensing with one hoary stereotype, the report reinforces others. English people are more uptight and individualistic, it seems, and — surprise, surprise — French people are less traditional and dig sex more than the maudits anglais.

It’s interesting and feel-good and all of that, but the report fails to address one key difference between the English and French. Specifically, what is it with French people and cretons? Seriously. I have yet to meet a single English person who eats the stuff, and for good reason. It’s disgusting. Wars have started over smaller things than pork spread.


French People: They’re Just Like Us! (Almost.)

  1. It’s true.

    Man that stuff is bad.

  2. You should meet my husband, then. My husband, an American who will soon enlarge the anglophone population of Sherbrooke (I’m bringing him back for good in August), discovered cretons on his first automn at my parents’ place. He loved it (no kidding). He might not be a reference, though. He will eat everything you give him that looks like food, particularly if he can put it on bread.

  3. It’s amazing that Bishop’s is still open considering the restrictions on education in English in Quebec.
    This year’s drop in enrolment was 14%.

  4. Whaddaya mean cretons is bad? It’s awesome! You are obviously not buying it at the right place. God, I’ve been known to eat a whole thing of it in one sitting. Cretons rocks!

  5. @sf: there are exactly zero restrictions on English education at Bishop’s University because… well, it’s a university, and therefore doesn’t fall under the province’s language laws. Just an idea: Perhaps you should read up before posting?

  6. Mmmmmm cretons! I never even knew it was a franco thing.

  7. Cretons, bad? For shame!

    The only reason the words should be in the same sentence are variations on:

    No cretons? Too bad!
    Too bad there aren’t any cretons!


  8. I just had my first cretons last week. Not bad at all, but they would have taken valuable toast space away from my confiture des bluets. So, no cretons.

  9. Cretons are wonderful! Actually, I thought it was an english thing, because it is so good on toasts. It has everything you may want: it’s salted, fat, cheap, it’s spreadable meat you can eat for breakfest AND for lunch (mmm, a good creton sandwich with mayonnaise and (or) with mustard…)

  10. @martin: Just an idea: maybe you should have read my post before responding. I did not say there were restrictions on English education at Bishop’s, I said there were restrictions on English education in Quebec. There are fewer English speaking students in Quebec high schools. Now, connect the dots.

  11. Enough already. I want to know what the Serbs eat.

  12. @sf, I believe Bishop’s has a large out-of-province contingent. Many come for the cretons. It’s an anglo thing.

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