22 August 2009

More on France...

In trying to recall all of the things that have happened since we got here, I completely forgot to add that we have been befriended by a French family here (our personal banker) which has been a huge, huge help. They had us over for dinner the second week that we were here and we were all very nervous (especially the kids). We got to their house at around 7pm and had a typical French dinner. What this means is that you have about 6 courses (including the drinks) and it lasts until quite late by American standards.

We started with an aperitif or opening drinks which are supposed to open up your pallet and prepare you for the meal. It is typically something like champagne, whiskey, or wine. I recall we had a red wine and whiskey. The kids had "Coca" which is what they call Coke. This was accompanied with finger foods or what we might call an appetizer.

Next came the entree which for Americans would be the appetizer as well. This was basically a fish loaf (like meatloaf made of fish and shrimp) and was accompanied with salad (which usually comes at the end of the meal) which was surprisingly really, really good.

Next came the plat principal which was the main course. This was monk fish which was also excellent. This was served with mixed vegetables.

Next came the cheese and bread. We do not recall what types of cheese they were but we have well 400 types to choose from in France because the French love their cheese. In fact, Charles De Gaulle made the comment about France referring to their individuality and stubborness saying "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?"

Next came the dessert which was a chocolate cake, also very tasty. There was also little candies and cigarettes (which were like cookies or something or dried rolled up crepe). The cake had little sticks that stuck out of the top of the cake which were edible as well. Somewhere thereafter we also had some fruit (strawberries).

Next came the digestif which is the alcohol at the end of the meal like wine or whiskey. I think we had some wine.

Finally we closed the meal with un cafe or coffee. This was at 12am. So we got there at 7pm and left at 12am which was when I finished my coffee. We ate the entire time.

All that said, we had a great time. They could speak very little English and we could speak very little French but that did not seem to matter. The kids hit it off very nicely. They also have a boy and a girl each of which were only a year younger that Rebekkah and Micah respectively. They played basketball, soccer (which they call "le foot"), tag, hide-and-seek (which they call "cache-cache"), and any other games they could think of while the adults sat and tried to converse with our French-English dictionary. It was a good time.

Several days later we went with them to a corn maze (which they call a "labrynthe vegetal") and then went to their house for pizza. The wife (Marie-Claire) took us to the town to pick up the pizzas and show us around to some places that she frequented and recommended (butchers, orthodontists, restaurants, shopping, etc.) and the husband (Guillaume or William) stayed home with the kids. While we were out driving we ended up picking up Guillaume's aunt who lived in town to see if she wanted to eat some dinner with some Americans. For whatever reason, we found that quite humorous. It sort of reminded me of the movie Vacation where they picked up Aunt Edna.

Again we had a fantastic time. They ordered 8 pizzas, none of which were much like American pizzas. The closest one was a cheese pizza but instead of just mozzarella it was with four cheeses. The rest had various toppings like fish, hamburger with some sort of gravy, potatoes, etc. It was very different but also very good. This time we left at around 10pm instead of midnight.

They also set up Rebekkah's first orthodontist appointment and went with us to help us out. What was funny about that is that no one in the Dr.'s office spoke English including the Launey's who brought us!

We have experienced this sort of kindness from most people here. It is funny that many Americans characterize the French as rude and arrogant but we have not experienced that in the least here in Normandy. I'm thinking this caricature comes from people who have contact with the big city French like Parisians. I think it is like characterizing all Americans by a resident of Manhattan. I have been finding that it is quite inaccurate.

What we have experienced is that everything here takes FOREVER! And I mean forever. The other night we went to return something (which must be a very infrequent event in France or it was just because it is August) and it took at least 30 minutes. The other day I went to try to get my badge and since I didn't have my resident card yet there were problems. After waiting for 45 minutes they told me that they were sorry but the department that deals with this was closed. These type of events are the norm here. So if you ever want to do anything administrative, be prepared to wait.

That's all for now...and now for some more pictures of the cat...

1 comment:

SalvadorSimpsons said...

In El Salvador I keep a book in my purse, just in case I go somewhere and have to wait while I get something done...