Monday, December 23, 2013

Smug ... at least for a moment

I'm feeling a bit smug today. I succeeded in purchasing something, in French, on my own, which D-L had not been able to do.

Okay, I had help from my pocket anglais-francais dictionary. And she's not been feeling well (cold), so not fair to expect her to walk all around the village searching for something that wasn't today's priority.

She's been my translator for the past year and a half, and I would not have survived in France and Switzerland were it not for her. Actually, I'd have survived, but likely on a diet of Starbucks, McDonald's, and chocolate eclairs - things I was capable of ordering.

So only a little bit smug - lest she start speaking to me only in French - forcing me to learn the language much, much faster.

While I picked up some ingredients at the green grocers and the small chain grocery store, Donna-Lane headed to one of the charcuteries to pick up some boeuf hachette (ground beef) for today's lunch or dinner with returning friends.

Since we had also talked about having a sliced ham with honey for our Christmas dinner, she also asked them for a slice of jambon. Non, was the response of the man in the apron.

D-L and I rendezvoused at the Warren and compared notes on what we'd bought ... and didn't buy. I headed back out for a couple of missing items on my list.

And just to test my French - okay, and in the hope of gaining a brief, minor smug advantage, and because I really have my taste buds geared up for ham for Christmas - I went to the same charcuterie she had visited and asked for jambon fumé. Non, monsiuer. 
Not one to give up easily, I headed for the other end of the street and the charcuterie/boucherie near the flower shop where we'd purchased our Christmas tree. Voila! They had a lovely shank of ham right in the corner of the display case. I felt like Tiny Tim spotting the Christmas goose! I ordered une tranche (one slice) un centimetre epais (one centimeter thick) ... I've also had to get used to the metric system here. The last time I was in that charcuterie/boucherie, I tried to order 400 kilograms of boeuf hachette - about 880 pounds! They thought I must be having a party, and enjoyed a good chuckle before politely correcting me to 400 grams, a bit less than one pound.
I proudly marched home with my Christmas jambon tranche, took a photo, and called D-L over so I could gloat about my triumph.
Now it's time to make my famous Catalan Rice (a localized variation on the Spanish Rice my mother taught me how to make) for our friends who have been traveling all day in lousy weather. 
That's one of the many things I love about this village - often when we arrive back in town, someone has made us dinner so we're not scrounging to eat whatever dried food we left in the Warren or the Nest two weeks or two months before. This time when we returned - and rather late at night - the landlady had turned on the heat for us, as well as a few lights, placed a lovely poinsettia on the table, and invited us upstairs for a hot, three-course meal (complete with a Scandinavian version of Baked Alaska dessert). What a lovely, friendly place to live.

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