Monday, July 14, 2008


So, July 14th is a holiday in France... Bastille Day to be exact (though, as Sam explained it yesterday, folks usually party on the 13th because they get to sleep in and nurse their gueule de bois (hangover) the next day rather than celebrating on the 14th and having to get up and go to work all groggy and pissy. Well, since we didn't do much more than run all over the hillside chasing fireworks displays and subjecting our children to cold temperatures in pijamas and trecherous roads with speeding (and probably drunk) oncoming traffic while we WATCHED these displays, we, needless to say, did NOT have hangovers.

Still, we did lie around the house as though we did.

The day started out all hazy and blah and I wondered how long I'd be able to lie around in bed finishing my borrowed Stephen King novel (an oldy I should have ready YEARS ago) before Sam came in to complain about someone's butt being poopy. Trust me, it wasn't long.

But it wasn't about poop he wanted to discuss but rather this BRILLIANT idea on how to solve our laptop adapter problem (aside: I insisted he buy my laptop adapter from Dell before we left and he insisted we didn't need it since he already had one... it wasn't until I had used all four hours of available juice that he realized the adapter he had was only TWO pronged...idiot... and so now I have to do everything from my father-in-law's dinosaur...). Since we wouldn't be able to find one in FRANCE on the 14th because they MEAN it when they say HOLIDAY, he decided we'd go to Switzerland (which is only a few minutes away from his parents' house). After he messed with the computer for an hour looking for a computer store in Geneva (and swatting away my pleas to help him, because I am, ahem, an Information Professional and my job is to, ahem, find inforMAtion), I finally convinced him to let me give it a try and, I did find about 20 stores in a matter of 5 minutes (but am only going to tell YOU about it... to him I was silently, humbly, secretly TRIUMPHANT--listen, he rarely takes me seriously... are you getting that?).

ANYHOO... So, we decide to make an outting out of it, load the kids up in the van and go in search of it.

Some outting.

A picture of a resto I saw in Geneva that had all you can eat chocolate fondue!!!:
We turn around and around for half an hour because he won't let me help him with the map. When he finally admits he's lost (such a cliche) and hands me the map, I quickly and calmly find our way there. Again, silently triumphant...

But it was for naught. NO adapter.


Stay tuned on updates on THAT silliness...

So, then later, we've been invited to our nephew's new apartment where he's shacking up with his girlfriend (something that Sam and I paved the way for nearly ten years ago when we stunned the family by moving in together... you're welcome). It is going to be an "apperitif dinotier" or something like that which is a new idea and it basically means a "dinner of appetizers" which to me is just about any dinner out back home(tee hee hee). I'm a little skeptical about how behaved my children are going to be in this young couple's new swanky, IKEA-ized nest, but I load 'em up and go there nonetheless.

Happy I did. The eats were nothing short of delicious. My new neice-to-be made a yummy cheese pie which was made from eggs, creme fraiche, cheese (probably a mixture of several different gruyeres and maybe a bleu/roquefort?) and herbs with ham confetti in it. She also made a sort of pizza pie with a basic layer of different cheeses, fresh tomatoes on top of that and sprinkled with herbs and parmesean. Those two dishes stood out to me from the table peppered with bowls of olives (black and green), chips, tabouleh, salad, cherry tomatoes and the like. There were also little toasts spread with some German pate that my nephew won at a race earlier this year (by the way, he's a cyclist... he's racing with the French national cycling team... look him up, he's Remi Cusin). To drink, we had a fruity rose wine that was slightly bubbly which is new for me but wasn't bad at all.

But none of that struck me as different or strange other than the fact that we've never made a dinner out of an appetizer (which I enjoyed immensely because it was fun watching my father-in-law squirm and grumble about making a dinner out of cochonnerie which basically means "crap" hee hee hee). No, what was new and surprising and fun was using my new locavore senses. This happened when they broke out the tarte a l'abricot (an apricot tarte), which is just a storebought crust (rolled up) piled high with fresh apricots and lightly sprinkled with sugar before it's put in a hot oven and allowed to brown(ahem, burn) on top.

I'm not a big peach/apricot eater myself, so I didn't enjoy the very tart tarte, but I did enjoy the discussion about from WHENCE the apricots came!!! It basically went like this...

"Hmmm... where'd you say you bought these?"
"Oh... blah blah blah...(something I didn't hear or maybe one of my kids were jumping on the couch and I had to yell at them."
"Hmm... because I found that the apricots you gave me really were too ripe."
"Oh... it's because... blah blah blah..."
"AH... so they're organic...?"
"No, not really... but kind of... as if you had grown them in your own yard."
"Oh, so I doubt he treated them much, huh?"
"Probably not..."
"Oh, I bought some peaches the other day that had little spots on them and you could tell that they hadn't been treated and I really appreciated them... The storebought ones were all clear (no spots) and you could tell that they had probably been sprayed..."

DUDE!!! This is DINNER conversation around here... My heart leapt!!!

Oh, it gets better...

Then, we started talking about endive... something Sam hates because he finds them bitter. Here's the conversation about that:

"Yeah, but who would want to eat endive this time a year when there are so many other great little delicate leaves in the garden?"

"No, no, endive is best left for the fall and winter when all of the other greens are out of season."

"Yeah, and anyway, when they're all white and new and beautiful, I don't think they're bitter at all."

(For the record, unless they have the life baked out of them and are covered in cheese and cream, they ARE bitter... I don't care what anyone says. I agree with Sam about that. But, bitter doesn't bother me much.)

I was in awe. I'm sure my chin touched the table and drool spilled out onto my napkin. They were talking about SEASONS... the food around here is eaten in SEASONS... Not crap picked green and transported hundreds of miles (or kilometres if you will)... There's actually food in the food and not just petroleum. There are food calories, not oil ones.


Okay, allow me a hippy moment, y'all. I know that most of my readers are not locavores and may not even know (or want to know) what one is, but this is a new committment I made before leaving the States--to try to eat things that are grown locally. To know where my food came from. And here we were, at the dinner table --no, the appetizer table--discussing where our food came from and what is in season... I'm tearing up just thinking about that.

FINALLY something I can truly appreciate about this godsforsaken country. I can feel healing, folks. I can feel it. Years of hurt and ridicule are bandaged by just this one thing... that they pay attention to their food.

Apricot tarte:

Black olives from Spain:

Wine and toasts:




Homemade pizza thingy:

Okay... enough for one day. Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of apartment hunting... should be a fun one.

1 comment:

Erin said...

HOORAY for the locavores!!!!! I'm totally into that too, which is why I love European culture. Yippee!
Also, I want my own g-d yard and a garden and little chickens who fertilize the garden and provide fresh eggs. Do I ask for too much? I think not.
I'd talk about this anytime with you, btw. Read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan if you haven't yet.