Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Update #1

Hello, Hello, Hello!

We just wanted to update all of you on our life in France thus far. Actually, the weather has been pretty *blah* since we've been here, so I'm afraid there isn't much to tell. We were planning on touring some on Saturday, but the rain and windy cold would have none of it. So, no interesting stories for you all. I do however, have some pictures for you to see!

Since we haven't seen much of France just yet, I took some pictures around town to help you all get a better idea of our everyday life. After work, Stuart and I often go to a local grocery store to pick up items we need for the evening or weekend or whatever. So far, we've made the French dish Chicken Cordon Bleu together, which Stuart really loved and wants again very soon! Here's the outside of the grocery store, because I know you're all dying to see it (don't even pretend you're not):

It seems to be one of the larger stores in the area, but you'd be surprised at the things we have trouble finding. Fresh milk for example, is not always on the shelves. The French seem to prefer a milk that requires no refrigeration and that will last almost a month! Sorry, I still prefer fresh!

This second picture is a snapshot of inside Pernes-le-Fontaines. The castle looking structure is the entry way to the "old city." No cars are allowed beyond this point. Stuart and I plan to explore it one day soon! I think the idea of a walled city is very quaint, don't you?

This last picture is a view from the mini bus of the house after we had gotten back from the grocery store. In the summer, I think this area serves as a garden. Our bedroom is the top left window. There is also a neighborhood cat who wanders around the yard during the day. Maybe I'll see if we can coax her inside with some food!

In the meantime, all is well. Stuart and I have gotten settled in, and have made friends with our neighbor Philippe, who speaks no English but is so animated that we all feel like we're playing charades most of the time! And of course, we are loving our time together to talk with one another and bond. It is wonderful! On Wednesday, Siv has invited me to go shopping with her in Avignon, so I will try and keep my eyes open for neat things to fill you all in on!

All of our love,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chocolate Filling with a Side of Happiness

Our first visit to a French Patisserie.

Ah yes.

Many years from now when I'm an old coot gumming nursing home food (if they don't euthanize me first), I will undoubtedly go into euphoric shivers at the thought of our first trip to Sugar Heaven. For that is what it was, the fat girl in me recognized it as soon as the bell tinkled over my head at the entrance. And I'm just telling you, the fat girl doesn't lie.

The glass displays flashed with a brilliance that would have made a Windex employee cry.

And the counters, you ask?


The trays?


The floors?

Glossed Marble.

For pete's sake, the place glowed.

There were beignets filled with caramel, chocolate, or if you wish, an apple filling. All nested in lacy doilies on perfectly golden trays. There were cherry tarts, creme brulee tarts, and cake slices the size of my head. I could feel the powdered sugar residue building up inside of my lungs just breathing it in.

The walls were lined with your choice of long and thin baguettes, short and fat baguettes, or crisp masses of floured sour dough bread.

In selecting our pastries of choice, we suddenly felt warm with the glow of people who have made not only a decision, but a firm decision.

One caramel beignet, and one chocolate beignet, if you please. . . No no, to the left man!
The left!

Add in a pointed jab with the index finger at the desired loaf of bread, and we practically radiated with importance, arrogance, and a feeling that we very well could be food critics from New York, come to pay a visit to our glazed European friends. Nothing like picking out pastries to give you a sense of empowerment.

A quick rustle of small white bags and wrappings, a flip of the coins, and a "Merci!" were enough to complete the quick, though meaningful outing.

The consumption of the product was of course, divine and filled with oohs and hmmms. We munched in harmonious contentment for awhile and smiled at each other with gooey teeth.

But! Alas, I must admit when it was all said and done, the crinkling and cracking of the bakery paper quiet, the anticipatory remarks on the flavor and texture passed, and the licking of fingers to savor those last delicate morsels done, eating the pastry was not nearly as exhilarating as selecting it in that shiny shop.

Later though, as I settled down to a quiet evening with Stuart, filled to my nose with the calorie laden treat, I decided that for tonight at least, I felt genuinely French.

P.S. How could I eat a French pastry and not think of our loving families at home? We took pictures so that you may share in the joy of our first tender bites.

*Notice how Stuart leaves me hanging in this first one. Undoubtedly to make me look as if I consumed the majority. The fiend!

*Now this is better! Except that I think I inhaled some of the powdered sugar and it must have gone to my brain, because I lost it just about here. I spent the next couple of minutes giggling like an idiot. No doubt euphoria brought on by an overdose of glucose.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where In The World Are We?

So, I have had multiple questions concerning the area in which Stuart and I are currently residing. Here are a few tidbits to help the readers get a general feel for our temporary home.

Town: Pernes-les -Fontaines

Population: Roughly 10,000 people

Occupations of residents: According to Vincent ( the man who picked us up from the airport and who's wife translates for us at church) the majority of the residents here were at one time farmers. They produce (get it?) tons of fruit and veggies here during the spring/summer seasons including cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lots of grapes, and even olives for making olive oil! However, Vincent says a lot of locals are beginning to drive outside the area for work, employed by manufacturing companies, etc.

Claim to fame: Mount Ventoux, the mountain all the bikers ride up in the Tour de France, which I don't know much about so....don't ask.

Major cities we are near to: Avignon (approx. 90,000- 100,000 people), Marseille (approx. 1 million people). To go grocery shopping, we have to drive into Carpentras because Pernes-les-Fontaines isn't big enough to hold a cup of water, which is kind of like saying, "I live in Ringgold/Milton, but go into Danville to do my grocery shopping."

Body of water: We are about 45 minutes to an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, so we often get high winds coming up off the water that causes it to blow here pretty hard for around three days or so.

So there. A few quick facts for all of you out there wondering.

More witty commentary next time!
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