Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What's That Growing By the Side of the Road?

          One more France story.  We are driving along, somewhere between Paris and Lake Annecy, when we decide to stop for lunch.  Or rather, Flunch, in a convenience mart like no other I’ve ever seen.
This is what one of their shelves looks like:
          They also have lavish dessert bars, cheese bars, enough to make the day of it, though we did not.
          Anyway, riding along, I’d been noticing fields of yellow flowers which I think are mustard. At least they look like the mustard fields of California. And, after all, Dijon is not far away. 
But just to be sure, I decide to ask the friendly lady at the gas station.
          “Oh,” she says, in not bad English, “that’s diesel.”
          I am wondering what French word that can be, since surely she can’t mean fuel.
          “Makes your car go,” the woman continues, zooming her hand through the air to demonstrate.
          I am speechless, a frequent occurrence in France, but I manage to say, “You mean diesel fuel?”
          “Yes,” she says.  She is most emphatic.
          I know no one in my family will believe this, so I drag Richie over to verify this truly amazing story, and she tells him, as well, that they are growing diesel in those fields.
          None of us have a proper comeback, so we buy our snacks and leave, later verifying with a cheese vendor that evening, that it is actually canola they’re growing. Okay, so maybe the first lady thinks diesel is the English word for oil, and she thinks oil and gas do the same thing?  Maybe.  I’m stretching, here.  “She works at a gas station!” Richie mumbles.
          But we get home and learn that canola and mustard plants look identical.  In fact, I see matching photos when I Google both of them. 
They are very closely related, but one yields a mild oil and the other a tangy mustard. I would imagine farmers must be careful to distinguish these, no?  This would not be a good time to confuse Brassica napus with Brassica juncea.



          Either way, I’ve already decided what I will say if a tourist asks me what’s growing in our mustard fields.  I’m going with latex paint.  Hey, they need something to write home about.
And you need something fun to read.  Try out my books, here!


  1. That is strange. Perhaps it was intended to be converted into biodeisel? I'm glad that my supermarket doesn't have a dessert bar that looks like that. I might not have enough money left to buy cheerios...

    1. I know-- it was tough to get out of there in under an hour, with all the tempting goodies on display! Thanks for writing in!