28.07.2013 - 28.07.2013 26 °C
Our French friends have been so encouraging with having us visit that they insisted we come for another lunch, casual though it would be. We started the visit with ‘aperitifs’ of drinks, chips and salsa, crab sticks and little toasts with lump fish eggs. When I saw the little rounds piled with small black eggs, I wondered if it was caviar. They said no but I was impressed that I could identify them at least as fish eggs. Most of us had not tried this before; we found it interesting but quite salty and fishy. After an hour of eating and chatting, we moved to the table to have the actual lunch, consisting of salads and more wonderfully seasoned vegetables, duck, turkey, beef, chicken, prawns and salmon cooked again on the plancha (the small table barbeque). Add to that French bread and rhubarb wine and it was another culinary coup by Myriam and Thierry. Another hour and half passed around the table. When asked if we would like some cheese, we said ‘a little’ would be nice. They proceeded to bring out different kinds of cheeses ranging from mild, soft sheep cheese to Munster and sweet Roquefort. Also included were a soft Brie/Camembert cross, three goat cheeses (one plain, another smoked and the third with herbs and chives), and a hard cheese similar to a strong Emmental. We somehow made do with only the eight varieties and slowly worked our way through them from mild to strong. Of course, there was now white wine and more French bread as well. After the cheese course came the dessert: fresh fruit salad and ice cream. By the time we rose from the table, we had been eating and conversing for four hours. Do the French ever know how to entertain! It felt like a real occasion.
To release some of the energy we consumed, we played rousing games of cards which, surprisingly, got a bit physical. Some people commented on my competitiveness – I honestly didn’t know it was that obvious. We were then invited to try our hand at French Trivial Pursuit. Even though we played with the “kids’ questions,” it was still challenging as it concentrated a lot on European personages and history. Throughout the activities, Ben and I would try some of our French, just to try to keep up with Thierry’s more-than-valiant efforts at English. He said he hadn’t spoken it for years and we were in the same boat, dredging up our high school learning. Most of those brain cells are gone by now. That said, Ben and I spoke more French in these three days with Marine’s family than in our entire Grade 11 course. Additionally, hand gestures and tone convey a lot of meaning.
And soon, a mere four hours later, it was time to eat again. Somehow, the chocolate we ate during the game and the kilos of food we had eaten prior did not dissuade any of us so we feasted on a large pot of spaghetti carbonara made with rich cream and lardons, a French version of bacon. And more wine, of course. The evening concluded with us watching the movie “Time Out” in French with English subtitles. It was a day where, despite no formal sightseeing, we felt as if we had experienced more of French culture and lifestyle than we had during our whole time in Paris.