(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

like babe. only better.

Last night was another fun evening spent with new French friends. And a farm animal or 2!

I was invited to a BBQ in honor of Christian's birthday. Christian is the rancher sporting the long red wig at the disco party. I went with Marjo and Rodolphe, who live in a pretty little village called St. Jory de la Chalais. I'll have to tell you about their spot soon, a gorgeous renovated grange.

But anyways, they invited me to accompany them. I thought it would be a group the size of the previous party. Christian lives up the lane from Marjo et Rodolphe. As we neared the turn for his house, we saw a tractor loaded with those great big hay rounds (do you know the ones) turn into the lane ahead of us.

It was Christian, bringing in hay to the barn. We parked, the first to arrive and lingered around in the yard. Christian was just ending his day and walked up the road, baking. It has been another round of hot days and yesterday was no exception. Bises were exchanged all around and he went inside to hose himself down. His house is a grand old farmhouse with a large open kitchen, door on one side leads to entry, door opposite looks out into a huge pasture with a cow or two. This door faces west and so, I imagine, one could sit at the country kitchen table every night and watch the sun go down.

The kitchen was the 'hub' of the house, with doors leading off into other rooms, an equally large dining room with huge skinny brick fireplace and a large dining table. Totally bachelored out with stuff everywhere! Back to the kitchen, in addition to a large country table in the center and the normal kitchen stuff, there is a desk with computer and various accoutrements for managing affairs. The other door led to what looked like a t.v. room.

You enter the house through a mud room, with a long bathroom comfortably equipped and a door leading into a bedroom. This was all on the first floor. All rooms spacious. Amazing stone and wood floors. Just comfy.

A BBQ big enough to grill a side of beef was off in the yard, along with a big old metal table and a smattering of chairs. A couple of dogs trotted happily around. Christian's cousin rode 1-1/2 hours from Bordeaux on a motorcycle with our precious piéce de resistance for dinner - an entrecote the size of a side table. They were quite proud of this beautiful (and ultimately DELICIOUS) piece of beef and wanted me to be sure and share with you that not EVERYTHING is bigger in America!

Before dinner preparations, Marjo and I took a walk about the property a bit, and I was introduced to the pigs. The picture is one of the baby pigs, mom was in the stall next door and twice as large!! These pigs aren't raised for selling, they are for home use and friends and will result in lord knows how many saucissons and patés and hams and other treats, all prepared by Christian. We returned for the aperitifs, the opening of a few small gifts and chit-chat.

Christian's mother (very old) lives in a small stone house down the way, very charming.

Everyone got together in the kitchen to put together the accompaniments - I sliced fresh tomatoes which went together with freshly picked parsley (I saw Marjo pluck it!) and onions for salade 1; Christian had already made a salade haricots vertes with the most tender beans ever...his secret was a little bit of bicarb of soda!!! who knew??!!. We also had slices of his homemade pate, fresh bread, slabs of the melt in your mouth steak. Red wine or rosé. A cheese course (mmmm....roquefort!) and an apple tart. Ohhhh! and I had some of the homemade brandy that would curl your hair. Delish!!! Group clean-up as well.

It was Christian, Marjo and Rodolphe, Christian's cousin and wife, 2 other neighbors and assorted teens milling in and out. Christian's teenage daughter lives with him and various groups of kids would arrive, present themselves in the kitchen and walk single file around the table to receive their greeting bises from all of us!!! How charming is that? I can't imagine it occurring in the states...

Much visiting (yes I Did Participate, as much as possible and was awarded with kindnesses like how good my french was, etc.) The evening was casual, convivial, warm and special. I was honored to be included in this intimate family gathering.

Other observations included small bats (don't worry, they don't bite, Kim! yikes!!) and an enormous wasp-like creature that found its way into the house. Everyone immediately asked me if I was allergic. We had moved indoors to avoid these, they are 3x as big as normal wasps and pack a toxic dose of poison, apparently.

All in a country day's work, I suppose.

Now I'm off to the village park where a small festival is about to begin. Live music, "Agricole Rock"? lol, its Occitan and we'll see. I'm bringing my camera for y'all!


Randal Graves said...

Excellent opportunity to mingle, practice and eat. Doesn't get better than that! Minus the poisonous wasps from outer space.

Stacey said...

Totally rocks, and yes, there are not enough photos here.

Our Juicy Life said...

being invited into someones home is a big deal. You have made some true friends. Holy crap that "baby" big is huge. There were the hay pinwheels all over the Aveyron in the fields. One morning they would be there (like 50-60) and in the afternoon they would be gone, poof! Bruce took many pictures of them, he thought they were really cool.
We went to dinner with our friends last week, they are from Paris and just bought a house here in Los Angeles in the Hollywood Hills, I was telling them how much I love that in France whenever you come into a room, bar, restaurant and see friends you stop and take the time to kiss/kiss all of them and that I love that. She said she hates that...takes up so much time, but you have to do it in France, she said she loves America because we just hug.
Occitan music, can't wait to hear how it was. Bruce is obsessed with the Occitan's and he even brought back an Occitan flag. Can't wait to see the pictures.

La Framéricaine said...

Girl! That is the very best kind of event! I am so happy for you and you didn't even have to have a heart attack or cancer to end up in a big French social event. Will wonders never cease? That young people giving des bises to everyone is really sweet and, as you say, hard to imagine in the USA.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! Oh, wait, you will have to wait until May 1st to do that in 2009!!! Ha! Ha! Ha!

BTW, you might just hear some interesting news from OJL soon. I don't have time to give news. I drank a bottle of champagne, with creme de cassis, with LF for no good reason and I have to leave for Las Vegas at 4am or some such insane hour. No blahg for 4--count 'em, 4--days!!! I am going to die!!!

Bises, Chérie!

Utah Savage said...

I have to visit now just to know I have a French friend living the good life. Mine currently sucks so it's nice to slip into to yours and live a bit vicariously. God, I am green with envy.

And to think that for a moment you were nervous about this move.

La Belette Rouge said...

I am a noticing a theme of your blog as of late: dangerous pests and cute and adorable animals. My vote is for more food and wine descriptions and that you come in contact with less vermin and the like that might require hospitalization. This may be the reason I have never gotten outside of Paris---I am not at all interested in having encounters with wasps with toxic doses of poison.