There are times when I say things Christian doesn’t understand. There are also times when I pronounce them ‘the normal way’ (as in, how they are pronounced in France) and it cracks him right up.
This, for example is a ‘shoope-ah-shoope’. That’s right: the ‘s’ is silent.
In my sugar eating days, my favourites were strawberry and cream, and caramel (because of the beautiful little flans on the wrapper).
Next time you go to France, remember: ‘shoope-ah-shoope’. Or you can point – that works too.
(Image is from here)
(Image is from here)
On this fateful day eleven years ago, our grandmother died. It had been predictable enough although I don’t think either her nor us wanted to admit it.
The day was as to be expected filled with overwhelming grief, fountains of tears, paperwork, and the uncomfortable unspeakable realisation that we would need to adapt and live without her from that day forward.
My sister and I spent most of the day within a metre of each other. I remember very clearly walking down the street to take a bus with her. Buying cigarettes. Sitting on my grandparents’ miniature art nouveau-ish balcony almost all afternoon. Doing the hard stuff together. Crying.
All these years later it still breaks my heart to think about it. But I have also started to remember this day as a hard day made that much easier, that much warmer, that much more bearable because my sister was very close by. Not just a day when we lost someone we adored, but a day when I hung on tight to her. And she hung tight right back.
I’ve even had a smile on my face today thinking about it. That’s one of the reasons she’s amazing. Lucky lucky me.
Aside from being a woman’s name in France, it is a game we played in my family. Whenever you eat a mandarin, if you find two slices that were joined you would rope in a willing family member and give him/her the twin slice to eat.
The next day, the first one to say ‘Philippine’ to the other wins. The loser must give you a small gift. An easy scam if you’ve got good memory.
I was really really good at Philippine. Much to the dislike of my hyper competitive brother (na na na na!!). So now that mandarins are in season, if you see me approach you with a slice of mandarin in my outstretched hand, save yourself some time and just get me a small gift.
(Image is from here).
My vinegar Brussel sprout soak and bug check were much shorter than usual and I even found myself thinking ‘If I eat a bug it won’t kill me’.
I did not stir my polenta with my favourite wooden stick (I always stir polenta with a wooden stick). Instead, I stirred everything cooking in different pots using the same spoon (lentils, polenta and onions), and justified it by thinking ‘So what? It’s all going to mix in my stomach anyway’.
I did not even go into frustration or grumbles when I noticed I was out of pumpkin seeds and had to substitute sunflower: I just thought ‘Bah, that’ll do’ instead of contemplating a dash to the supermarket during peak hour traffic.
And to top it all of when dinner was ready I nearly started eating without saying ‘Bon appétit’.
My head hurts… But I pulled dinner off and my stomach is satisfyingly full of Brussel sprouts, lentils and polenta (and maybe a few bugs). My head hurts too much to care.
(Image is from here)
In other words, I feel sorry for myself – and in this state the only sensible thing to do is crash into bed. Excuse me while I do that.
Promise, I will be more bouncy tomorrow!
(Image is from a site that spits an error in my face every time I try to load it. So I haven’t lost my manners, I don’t have anything to link to. Everything is falling apart tonight!).
If you go in and notice that clock missing one of these days, it’ll mean I swiped it*. But for the time being, it’s still in its place.
*Can you blame me? It even says ‘Pour manger bon’ on the face! Objects that speak French to me are as good as mine, I say (if they are beautiful and simple that is, like Clock here).
You should take my word for it: I grew up in Provence and it is beautiful all year around. But especially in spring: the air is still fresh but the sun shines and the sky is blue as my Christian’s eyes (which are very blue).
If you don’t trust me (and think I am biased, which I will admit to), then trust this man: Anthony Peregrine, an English expatriate who lives there (and is regularly called a ‘filthy English pervert’ by one of the old colourful characters in his village who cycles past his house to get his bread every morning).
Monsieur Peregrine even writes a paragraph about my home town of Aix-en-Provence and has lovely things to say about it (he’s after my own heart I think). Read it in all its glory here.
And now I am going to go drown my nostalgic home sickness in a bowl of soupe au pistou (best soup in the world – yes, biased again).
(Picture from Anthony Peregrine’s article).