Friday, July 27, 2018

What I'm learning in France . . .

The French Alps
From the South of France, I took a train to the French Alps. I think I'm loving France. People give me free food, free coffee, free wine, and three people offered me to stay with them for free. So, why not? I did!

At the local bakers, I greet the baker by saying: "Bonjour." I buy a raspberry tart from him. The berries look like little shiny and soft rubies on the pastry. 

At the local butchers - I ask him in French, "Do you have duck confit?" He says, "No, but I can offer you a quail." I buy it. 

At the local supermarket, the lady tells me which red wine is worth buying. I tell her: "Merci. Au revoir." She smiles and says: "Bonsoir."

I eat lunch with my host once in awhile. He usually makes a stew with potatoes and fresh vegetables. Yesterday, he gave me a freshly caught trout. The eyes were still so shiny and crystalline - the sign of fresh fish indeed.

My hosts says my French is improving every day, but don't try to test me in it. It's not that good; I think I've just gotten better at pronouncing words. I can even say that hard "R" sound we don't have in English, like in the word Pierre.

Some times I go into the forest and pick some wild mushrooms. I ask the local pharmacist if I can eat them. She tells me which ones are poisonous and which ones are edible.

I was in Paris 18 years ago and didn't enjoy myself at all. People were mean and nasty, and it was raining almost all the time. This time, I have to admit, I'm in love with France. 

The most important thing I think I've learned so far is how much the French appreciate beauty and life. They take life easier here and spend time helping people out. In the city, I was lost several times, and people came up to me (without me asking) and asked if I needed help. 

I feel like in America - it's all about running the rat race, making more money, buying a new car, and doing what others expect of you. I think I can't live out the American way. You miss too much, flying through life that way.

Incidentally, I took that quail and removed the bones. I stewed the bones into a red wine gravy. I turned the flesh into a quail steak. I cooked some fresh pasta, which I tossed with salt and butter. I stir fried freshly diced squash, carrots, and red shallots. When they fried in butter - it smelled so heavenly. I seared that quail steak and added it to the fresh noodles and vegetables with my gravy. And my goodness! One of the best meals I've ever had! I love France!

I drank the ruby wine the lady at the market recommended. I saved some of that raspberry tart for dinner. And I drank some coffee to finish it.

I think I've died and gone to Heaven. Oh, do I really have to come back home? (That time is coming, realistically. And summer won't be here all year around, anyways.)

As John Keats wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.

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