Anyone for a food baby?
Sunday was declared an Eating Day. Apparently Leslye’s family, from Bordeaux, were disappointed that we didn’t have time to visit them in the west. After spending time with Hanis’ family, it was Audrey’s family’s turn.
Her extended family have a really old holiday home in Bourg d’Oisans, about 45 minutes’ drive from Grenoble, close enough to spend holidays and pop back as required, but far enough away to provide a country mountainous environment. We met her mother, father, grandmother, great-uncle and a few family friends. Margot and Phillipe, Audrey’s parents, spoke very little English, while her “mémé” and uncle “Loulou” spoke none, which was good practice for my conversational French.
Eva, Audrey’s eleven-year-old sister and I took a shine to each other. I think our love of cats helped! She has this gorgeous ten-month-old tabby called “Drex” and I was so touched when she gave me a cat ornament to take back to Australia for my collection.
Dutchy was happy that Hervé, Phillipe’s friend, and Hervé’s son Alexandre, spoke English. Though Hervé hadn’t spoken English in years, his years as a fight steward stood him in good stead. I was most impressed with his jam-making ability, learned from his grandmother and perfected over the years, something I plan to try. The fromage blanc is almost like a set yoghurt, served with fruit and confiture (jam). Margot made a lovely tart with really nice pastry. I remember being really impressed with the shortcrust pastry Audrey made in Australia. Obviously she inherited the talent.
We had a barbecue, but were amused at how small the cooking plate was. In Australia it is unusual to have a wood-fired one, with total fire bans often in force.
After sharing wine, food and conviviality we went for a walk to the blue lake, le petit lac bleu, with its clear fresh mountain water giving a blue sheen to its surface.
Size does matter:
Everything seems to be bigger in Australia than in France with our great expanses of land, large houses in the suburbs with gardens and even apartments seem bigger in general. Men are usually taller and more solid, so finding clothes here is not so easy. We have a lot more smaller European cars now, with petrol prices on the increase, and I’ve already mentioned the crocodile at the zoo in Lyon. But Grenoble, with its majestic mountains, can lord it over us. If you know Mt. Dandenong in Victoria, Australia, after visiting France, you might rename it “Mound Dandenong.”
Bathrooms remain the bugbear of my larger-than-a-frenchman husband. He just about has to stick one arm out of some bathrooms just to dry himself!
Home-fired pizza; the eating day continues:
Then it was time to set off further up the mountain, to a place called La Garde, where I couldn’t imagine living because it seems so far from everything. We decided I was a suburban girl, but Audrey added to that and now I am a “Suburban Bourbon Girl.”
A multi-cultural event it was, from Australians to French to German. Audrey’s aunt Josianne and uncle Joacquin (check spelling), have a bi-annual pizza gathering, utilising their wood-fired outdoor pizza oven. Preparations had obviously been underway for a long time, as there was dough and toppings ready for everyone to make their own. They only took about 5 or 10 minutes to cook, and we ate them with some salad. What an experience! I bet you can all hear Dutchy’s mind ticking over: how do I make one of these? We have room for it in our backyard, but do we really need it?
Stars in my eyes:
Hollywood calling!!! For the second time in two days, in two very separate areas, we were compared with TV or movie stars. It made my day, but I know it’s probably because we are just not the usual sort of people they meet, and this time we were definitely in the country.
Then there was a little bit of singing. The four sisters, all Audrey’s aunts, had lovely voices and harmonised also, very pleasant to listen to. They knew we did karaoke, but singing without a backing track and microphone is a bit daunting. However, I rose to the challenge and sang “Fever” but I deliberately left out one of the verses as I didn’t want to bore them. Still, I received better applause than one sometimes does at karaoke, and what’s more they were actually listening; again unlike at karaoke where people listen for a minute then go back to their conversations. Everyone knows I have a gene to be seen, so this was very satisfying.
Cheeky Dutchy had brought his Itouch and tiny portable speakers with a good sound, and he just happened to have some backing tracks to sing to, not that he needs it, as he has a better natural voice than I do, and better timing too.
Then “Frère Jacques” was sung in rounds, with most people joining in, and the German contingent singing in that language.
The whole evening was a lot of fun, and real tiramisu and fruit salad for dessert finished it off nicely.