Tag Archives: boulangerie

The French (and My) Obsession

The 'fruits' of our shopping excursions to Beziers Flower Market, a vineyard and the boulangerie.
The ‘fruits’ of our shopping excursions to Beziers Flower Market, a vineyard and the boulangerie.
A perfect croissant to have with morning coffee.
A perfect croissant to have with morning coffee.
Our hostesses for lunch.
Our hostesses for lunch.
Just for starters! A poached egg and bacon salad.
Just for starters! A poached egg and bacon salad.
You may remember this main course from a previous post but  I'm making you look at it again!
You may remember this main course from a previous post but
I’m making you look at it again!
As if we hadn't eaten enough already (and this was only lunch!) the creme caramel and chocolate mousse were too tempting to resist.
As if we hadn’t eaten enough already (and this was only lunch!) the creme caramel and chocolate mousse were too tempting to resist.
Manuela and Valerie holding me up after lunch. I've eaten too much to stand unaided.
Manuela and Valerie holding me up after lunch. I’ve eaten too much to stand unaided.
This delicious strawberry tart accompanied afternoon tea.
This delicious strawberry tart accompanied afternoon tea.
The source of our tipple - thousands and thousands of acres of vines.
The source of our tipple – thousands and thousands of acres of vines.

We happened on some bathroom scales in a pharmacie in a village where I’d stopped to buy some indigestion tablets (I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on you). We both weighed in, memorized the number of kilos and stepped outside to convert the kilos to pounds using our phones.

To our surprise, we hadn’t packed on as many pounds as we had feared despite my increasingly prominent muffin top and Jimmy’s new belly.

With a gain of only three or four pounds each, we felt liberated to continue to stuff down pastries, croissants, baguettes with butter and jam or cheese, three course lunches with midday wine (as well as an evening aperitif and dinner) and calorific desserts with creme anglaise – a thick cream-colored sweet soup that makes absolutely anything taste better.

Vive la France!

France is all in Code #3

Madame Pittino in front of her bread selection. I'm behind the flash. Jimmy has just spotted the pastries.
Madame Pittino in front of her bread selection. I’m behind the flash. Jimmy has just spotted the pastries.

A seemingly straightforward mission to buy two croissants was turned into a farce by moi. The croissants were not the problem. They sat on the counter next to the till after I’d asked for them in the boulangerie/patisserie.

I was poised with a five euro note when the pastries seduced himself and he bent over to study them in the glass case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUn moment,” I said to Madame Pittino. She waited. I waited. Jimmy salivated. I could see his eyes burning a hole in the apple tart slices. Madame had made her way ‘round from the bread counter to the pastry counter.

Un pomme de terre, s’il vous plait;” I requested confidently. Madame P. stood looking at me quizzically. After a moment’s thought I heard what I’d said. The translation process always has a time delay in my head, like the news anchor interviewing someone thousands of miles away. You see the interviewee listening for a few seconds more after the question has been posed before they answer. Also, what’s nestling in my head and what comes out of my mouth is not always the same thing.

Non! Tarte au pomme!” I had asked for a potato instead of apple tart.

Notice there is an apple tart slice missing at the back of the row. Jimmy ate that.
Notice there is an apple tart slice missing at the back of the row. Jimmy ate that.

We have almost unfailingly been treated with patience, politeness and good humor in France.

Except for the waitress in Orléans who rolled her eyes at me when I enquired (in French) about the dish of the day. “Fish. Fish! FISH!” I would like to have known what type of fish but daren’t try her patience further. A Union Jack pin on her apron implied she spoke English but her vocabulary in this instance was limited to fish.

If she had spoken to me in French and said saumon I would have understood and ordered it instead of chicken. The salmon did look delicious on a plate in front of madame on the next table.

Oh, and then there was the young girl in the shop who, when I asked for the roast chicken I’d ordered the day before (again in French but it must have sounded like Swahili to her) said, “Combien de tranches?” I knew perfectly well what she was asking but as I cowered under her onslaught of “Combien? Combien? COMBIEN?” I experienced brain freeze.

“She’s asking me how many slices I want. I don’t want slices,” I said to Jimmy. “I want the whole thing.”

“Un poulet entier, un poulet roti.” The words finally surfaced from the cold depths of my brain and escaped. A whole, roast chicken. The shop girl must have experienced brain freeze as well and stood mutely by, not acknowledging my care-ful-ly e-nun-ci-a-ted French, until her superior finished serving another customer.

Chantal, who’d taken my order the day before and understood me perfectly, retrieved my hot roast chicken after a quick dignified exchange in French. I was so glad to flee my previous traumatizing inability to communicate that I didn’t look back to see if young mademoiselle looked suitably chastened.