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“The Frenchman”

26 Sep
you may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk?  I do. Two fyi's... the bathing belle with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger - and there are two VIPs in the midst...

You may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk? I do.
And two fyi’s… the bathing beau with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger… and there are some VPo VIPs in the midst…

Ah Frenchie men. Rummaging through my mum’s cookbooks back in Adelaide this Summer, I spied this gem with a wonderful text on – The Frenchman.

The Browns, Cora, Rose  and Bob, "The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France," Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

The Browns – Cora, Rose and Bob, “The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France,” Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

continental cookery book text

“…sanctified seriousness, …a rubbing of hands and tummy”

1956. To quote the Browns (Cora, Rose and Bob):

                                        “The Frenchman is informal enough at his plain morning cafe au lait with a brioche or croissant, newspaper and cigaret, but

                                          he approaches both lunch and dinner with sanctified seriousness, a rubbing of hands and tummy, crackling and tucking in of napkins,        

                                          anticipatory peeping under dish covers.  At table nothing must interfere with his enjoyment,

                                          the slightest interruption is resented and no visitor would presume to butt in on this devout ritual…”  (p.277, The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery, 1956)

1956.  Not much has changed.

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Greetings…

9 Jun
Paris postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' - 'Place de la Republique'

old Paris postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ – ‘Place de la Republique’

Up early this morning and dashed out to a village ‘vide-grenier’…  it’s a type of garage sale, but instead of just one household selling their wares on the street, it’s a whole village full!   If you’ve never been to one, they are just brilliant and full of potential treasure – and trash (as many would say!).

I’ve got to say I’m a little hooked and it’s one of those rare mornings where I’m ready to spring out of bed at 6am.  There’s even get a slight adrenaline rush as I jostle for a car park close to the sectioned-off streets and head towards the first stand displaying its wares.  I’m on a mission –  my purse is heavy with coins and my chest is literally bursting with excitement.  Sicko, you might say.  But really!  Vide-greniers (this translates as ’empty the attic’) offer all sorts of wonderful objects. And hey it’s in France, so for me that makes it totally exotic (mind you, being far from home, kangaroos and gums are also completely exotic for me now).  It’s not everyday you can buy the old scribbled-in picture books from the elderly monsieur’s childhood collection, or the 60s flowery frock from Madame’s hand-me -downs.  I’ve even picked up a whopping Le Creuset cast iron pot  for 8 Euros (now this find was in the half-dark it was so early and I had a torch!).   Mmmn, a post on vide grenier treasures will follow!

These ‘village garage sales’ are held on weekends (Sunday is the big day for our region)and start from around 8am, with people beginning to pack up around 4pm.  But if you want to find the ‘better’ stuff and real bargains, it’s best to head out as early as 7am (ie 8 Euro cookpot) – the time where you’ll rub shoulders with the ‘professionals’ already out for the hunt.

Here’s a few pics of some local vide greniers to whet the appetite for some…

vg 8

aaargh!!! this is a sight that sends me CRAZY

vg 2

vg 1

vg 10-11

vg 9

vide grenier 7

vg 7

I just loved this lady’s pricing for her old linen

vg 12

Lilas’ already an old hand at these things

vg 5

…that’s her with the Viewfinder

Today the weather has been pretty dire, so I headed out early and came home early (it has been raining much of this weekend – not something we’re needing when it is already difficult to access the vineyards by tractor, we’re hoping the forecast for heat for this week dries everything up).

I came home with a few postcards amongst my finds.

Goutez nos olives

This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?!  Woh!

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today's

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today’s

But have a look at these beauties…

'Babyface'

‘Babyface’

'Rond Point'

‘Rond Point’ (the guy on the far right side is to blame for this purchase)

...not much to be said

…not much to be said

guitar chick

You go girl, stroke those strings…

st eloi

this guy’s a fave

frenchie loveeers

check those fellas (mounds of muscle)

…and on the above theme,

...love an old recipe postcard

…love an old recipe postcard

But I do love a pretty card too.

sailboat postcard

another old Paris postcard:  'Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite'

another old Paris postcard: ‘Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite’

some sights #7 – pics from the South!

5 Mar

Hey, hey it’s time for some more sights from around our ‘hood!

I'm always passing this old 'cave co-operative'  - the date on the facade always reminds me of some special people back home, and now there's always this lovely old Renault '4L'

I’m always passing this old ‘cave co-operative’, ‘Costos Roussos‘ – the date on the facade always reminds me of some special people back home(!), and now there’s always this lovely old Renault ‘4L’

This was a first for me...  the ladies in the market vans had old quilts and blankets protecting their produce on a recent market morning.  It was below freezing and bloody cold!

This was a first for me… the ladies in the market vans had old quilts and blankets protecting their produce on a recent market morning. It was below freezing and bloody cold

... and on this moring it was -4 degrees

… and on this morning it was -4 degrees

It's starting to snow, approaching Chateau Violet - a beautiful old wine property near us

It’s starting to snow, approaching Chateau Violet – a beautiful old wine property near us

Saturday morning at the supermarche... preparing delicious 'Aligot'  - yes, a delightfully light, refreshing dish, composed of cheese, cream, potatoes, cheese, garlic, butter and then some more cheese

Saturday morning at the supermarche… preparing delicious ‘Aligot‘ – yes, a delightfully light, refreshing dish, composed of cheese, cream, potatoes, cheese, garlic, butter and then some more cheese.  Come on, it IS light – really!

Wine of the Month in our house- 'Boulevard Napoleon' with local smallgoods (where are you Dad?!)

Wine of the Month in our house:
the recently bottled ‘Boulevard Napoleon‘ with local smallgoods (where are you Dad?!)

the local hospital for the old metalheads

the local hospital for the old metalheads

Sunday night and pooch is hangin' at the pizza van

Sunday night and pooch is hangin’ at the pizza van

hot drinks at the cafe after a playing in the park...but check out the tele, the kids are getting clued up on winemaking

Hot drinks at the cafe after playing in the park
…but check out the tele! – the kids are getting clued-up on winemaking

downtown Narbonne

Downtown Narbonne

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market

butcher collage 2a

Meat, anyone? Delicacies at the Carcassonne market… lungs, heart, tripe. Note: bottom right in the tripe corner, the butcher has his Rose ready and chilling

...and another glass of Rose.  ONe of the many perks of living around here is the access to delicious, cheap wines served from tap straight out of the wall of our cave co-ops - simply BYO your own bottle

…and another glass of Rose.
One of the many perks of living around here is the access to delicious, cheap wines served from tap straight out of the wall of our cave co-ops – simply BYO your own bottle…

I love this - it's Pierre the baker's price list at the Olonzac market

I love this – it’s Pierre the baker’s price list at the Olonzac market

check out the airbrush work on the hot rod... a Renault 4L van

Check out the airbrush work on the hot rod
… a Renault 4L van

our local school celebrates 'Carnaval' each year, where everybody accompanies the school kids on floats in a tour of the village

Our school celebrates ‘Carnaval‘ each year, where everybody accompanies the school kids on floats in a tour of the village

A few things from last weekend's 'Vide-Grenier' (village garage sale):  some keyrings and an old "Science et Vie' magazine from 1944.Ashamed to say I get obssessed with many things, advertising keyrings from the 60s is one of them!  And I've just discovered there is even a name for it - 'Copoclephliie' (!!)

A few things from last weekend’s ‘vide-grenier’ (village garage sale): some keyrings and an old “Science et Vie’ magazine from 1944.
Ashamed to say I get obssessed with many things, advertising keyrings from the 60s for eg! And hang on, I’ve even discovered there’s a name for it – ‘Copoclephliie‘ (!!)

my favourite view coming out of Olonzac

my favourite view coming out of Olonzac

...and a favourite close to home, this wall in our hamlet

…and a favourite close to home, this wall in our hamlet

favourites, favourites, I think I have a thing about apples?

Favourites, favourites… now I promise this one wasn’t planned!  I think I have a thing about apples? (you started it Mum!)

on the road, yesterday

on the road, yesterday

Short, back and sides in lovely Toulouse

Short, back and sides in lovely Toulouse

the old 'manege' (carousel), downtown Toulouse

the old ‘manege’ (carousel), Toulouse

Phew, I hope you got through that!

xo

la vie en rose

19 Nov
papier cul

dunny paper, loo paper, bog roll, papier toilette, PQ… in PINK

Dunny paperloo paper, bog roll,toilet paper, toilet tissue, papier toilette, PQ (this one is good – it’s French and so tres elegant – it’s pronounced ‘pai-cue’, short for papier cul,’arse paper’)…  So many glorious ways to label a roll of perforated paper that wipes your bits.  But whatever the name, there is a fashion here in France that never goes out of fashion – your PQ in pretty old pink.

Forget baguettes, 2CVs, the Eiffel Tower… Yes, when I think of a recurring image over here, I think of pink PQ.  In almost every home you visit, you help yourself to, pink.  In any cafe, bar or restaurant toilet, pink.  Have a stroll down any supermarket toilet tissue aisle and you goggle over mountains of… pink.  Good luck if you’re searching for non-bleached, non-patterned or basic white.  They’ll be the few small piles hidden amidst the enormous volumes of joli rose – or once in a while spotted in a public loo!

mountains of lush pink dunny paper

mountains of lush, pink dunny paper

Why?  In fifteen years of frequent pondering (nearly always whilst sitting on someone else’s loo, reaching over for their dainty pink squares) – and asking most French people I know – I still don’t have an answer for it.  I’m by no means the first person to be asking either – I have friends!  Loads of them.  There are millions of internet search engine results concerning this very discussion in both French and English.  Some bloody funny theories too.  But still no answers!

It doesn’t explain the pink, but here’s a bit of trivia – correct me if I’m wrong! – about the French and their PQ, found in my search for THE answer:  it is said toilet paper was introduced in this country at the beginning of the 20th Century, but as it was long considered a luxury item, it was only from the 1960s its use became widespread.

And in shades of pink at that.

Chic.

Signed, sealed, delivered

7 Nov

Barack Obama - Hope (from an article by Nicolas Maillard)

Barack Obama, 1980 - Lisa Jack

some sights #4 – from yesterday (don’t forget the Jubilee!)

4 Jun
gate in Felines

an early morning view

Le Moulin a Felines

Le Moulin outside Felines

vide grenier in the rain

a Minervois vide grenier (village garage sale) in the rain…

vide grenier in the rain 2

Spot the Pierrot (remember them?!?)

inside a shed at the vg

hidden treasures sheltered from the rain in Philippe’s shed

books at the v-g

love the ‘Killdozer’ – and J.T doing the headband

a morning chat

a morning chat with the neighbour…

umbrella lady and her house

…who lives across the road

text books

you can tell we’re in a wine region

HRH and Phillip

love Lizzie (as seen on TV)

Alice's Jubilee Cake

Bravo Alice!

Gruissan blanc

the white was flowing for the ladies

Coronation bowl

Pam’s Coronation bowl…

Pam's treasure cupboard

…and her amazing treasure cupboard (thanks P!)

The people in your neighbourhood #1

29 Sep

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood. Say who are the people in your neighborhood – the people that you meet each day?

For some reason I found myself singing this song with Lilas in the car yesterday. We’d been cruising, passing 20-odd tractors in full harvest mode, and I’d just filled up with gazole at Madame Marty’s in the village next to ours.  On paying for the ‘gazoil’ I received a very cheery lesson from an old Frenchman on how to say ‘gazole’ instead of ‘gazoil’…  “No, it’s not like how the Anglais say it!” he instructed.  “She’s not exactly Anglais!” piped in Mme Marty with a nod at me.  Oh I love the locals!

madame marty

Mme Marty and Raya in their tabac

Mme Marty and Raya 2

Mme Marty has been running the local ‘tabac’ (tobacco shop) and ‘station service’ (service station -as with a lot of things in French, just say it backwards and you will probably be right.  I laughed so hard the day Benji asked me if I’d ever played with a ‘talkie-walkie’) for about thirty years.  I don’t know a single person who isn’t fond of ‘La Souris’ (The Mouse) – the name the locals have affectionately bestowed upon her.   In rain or shine, she is out there filling the cars, serving out the packs of cigarettes (they still smoke a lot around here), the cold beers from the fridge and the ‘bonbons’ to kids from her vast array at 1c a piece.  Her beautiful dog Raya is either lying on the tiles obstructing your path or mooching around, taking a pause in the middle of the road near the petrol pumps.

Mme Marty has a brother Robert who also lives in the village, whose wife, Lilliane is responsible for what seems like all local children under the age of 10.  She is the super-nanny with little ones constantly around her skirts, moving patiently at their pace with ther first steps, first bicycle ride etc.  She has a play area at the side of Mme Marty’s station and you can see all the toys lined-up and waiting.  This family are incredibly important assets to the village and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.   I asked Mme Marty where she was from and she pointed upstairs.  Born and bred on site, a true-blue local.   And when I asked her how much longer she intended to keep running the tabac she told me in her inimitable husky voice, thick with its Southern accent “as long as this body will let me!”.

Living out here, to be honest, can sometimes do my head in.  Everybody knows everyone’s business.  There is no anonymity and rarely a kept secret.  I’ve driven KILOMETRES from home in search of a pharmacy to buy a pregnancy test so that locals queueing behind me wouldn’t know of our plan.  Haven’t I told you already about being observed at the recycled bottle bin? – ‘How much does that family drink with their ‘etranger’ guests!??’.  Try buying suppositories on the quiet…

But (coming from a childhood in a city) ultimately, I have grown to appreciate living in a small community.   There is a lovely sense of routine and an appreciation of Nature’s cycles in the country – and a wealth of information on offer on all sorts of subjects if you reach out for it.  A smile and quick chat with Mme Marty can make my day, a wink from the butcher and an exchange of recipe ideas…  life in the country can be rich.

And sometimes you have no idea where a conversation might lead you.  As I was speaking with Mme Marty yesterday she mentioned that she’d known the former owner of our house.  Tell me more!…  She said that she knew the house well and had visited it when ‘the’ lady was living in it.  The lady had been living there with her parents and when they died she stayed on but, being handicapped, had a live-in carer (a Spanish man) with her.  After all these years!   Suddenly my carefully-guarded scraps of beautiful purple-inked hand-written text – pages of a letter that Benji had retrieved from the mess of rats’ nests in the ceiling while renovating –  from a young girl away at school to her ‘darling parents’, transformed from fiction into living history and real people!  How many years I had struggled to read the lines (and marvel at how gorgeous the handwriting was) of ‘votre petite fille, Y’, amongst the nibbled pages and adored the little picture of a girl tending her farm animals in what may have been our home.  This information was wonderful!

a letter from 'votre petite fille'

"...I end my letter darling parents in the hope of receiving your news soon. Kiss my little Faustin for me and receive darling parents the most affectionate caresses from: Your little girl who is thinking of you, Y." (It gets me everytime)

little girl with her animals

'votre petite fille' on the farm

I’d so often wondered ‘who is she?’, ‘she must have lived here, as she is asking her parents how the weather in our hamlet is!’.  I’d always felt incredibly moved by her tender words to her parents whom she obviously loved so much and wondered if she had slept in our home.  I even kept pieces of the beautiful wallpaper (it wasn’t in a state to keep on the walls unfortunately) that I had painstakingly removed during work on the house. This might have even been from the little girl’s room…

wallpaper bleuets

beautiful flower wallpaper from the upstairs bedroom

And this little girl was called ‘Yvette’.  The ‘Y’ was fully confirmed when Mme Marty said the lady’s name had been Yvette.  She had existed.  But with this came some sad information.  Yvette had apparently fallen pregnant and her parents, unwilling to have their daughter unmarried and become a mother, forced her to terminate the pregnancy and with that, Mme Marty said, “elle a perdu sa tete” (she lost her mind).  Heartbreaking.  Whether it be village gossip, a myth or whatever, I am still thinking about that darling little girl, writing to her adored parents.  In a way I wish I didn’t know the whole story.

I think I need to finish on a cheerier note…

People in Your Neighbourhood as seen on Sesame Street

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