Friday, September 28, 2007


We have company from the States this week and yesterday I brought them along on my daily shopping excursion. I am an almost daily visitor to our local boulangerie, grocery store, nice lady who sells fruits and vegetables out of her van, and, fairly frequently, a prepared-foods shop--so much more charming than it sounds--owned by a woman and her mother. The two of them make all the lasagnes, raviolis, headcheese salad (that's a direct translation, mes amis), and artichoke gratins--different things on different days. Madame's excitement at artichoke gratins has only been matched in my experience by my husband's excitement on spotting his first wild boar.

Taking the company along to do the shopping is my contribution to the Bon Appetit portion of their visit to the south of France. We take my straw market basket, I introduce the guests to the commercants whom I am friendly with, we choose interesting cheeses, pears, tartes. I try my best to channel Alice Waters, aware that I can only fall short but secure in the knowledge that it is a noble quest. The company get to feel like they are doing the native thing and can go home and talk casually about visiting with the boulangere; I get to feel like I belong here and show off my French.

Last night was a lasagne night at our house, so we stopped in chez Madame to see what she had on offer. I introduced my guests. One of our company had French in high school a little more than 50 years ago, and so he valiantly tries it out now and then on unsuspecting natives. Madame, stretching her artichoke gratin ebullience to include me as a consumer of those gratins, pronounced herself was "enchantee" to meet my guest and said that I was "adorable."

To which my guest, caught up in the moment, responded delightedly, "Moi aussi!"

I smiled and ordered a second lasagne.

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