samedi 12 juin 2010


Today we played hard. It was the birthday of some friends in Marseille who have an AMAZING rooftop deck with views over the sailboat-filled old port, the medieval fortresses guarding it, and the islands in the Mediterranean. We baked ourselves in the sunshine and "partied hard" which in this case meant eating about a zillion kinds of pork sausage. If Josh doesn't wake up with a stomach ache it will be a MIRACLE.

I was proud of myself and my humble offering to the party fare; this was one of the first times I've decided entirely what to cook based on "what looks good" at the market. I made a basic crust-and-fruit tart with "pêches de vigne" -- very fruity, fragrant peaches (David Lebovitz calls them a cross between peaches and raspberries), and sprinkled it with dried lavender. In the 45 seconds it took me to buy lavender at the dried herbs stand, I think the little old man working there gave me eight or nine other suggestions for how to use lavender in cooking (put it in tea. put it in pasta. put it on meats.) and then tried to sell me three or four other kinds of herbs. Desolée, monsieur. You've got me stocked up on enough herbes de provence to last me for at least another two months.

For the tart, I used Smitten Kitchen's amazing basic apple tart recipe, and I don't have any pictures but I was really proud of the finished result. I made some lemon-lavender syrop at the same time by tossing in some of the lavender as I heated up a simple syrup for lemonade. Flavored syrop are really big here, and you can get all different kinds (our favorites are peach and almond). People add them to water, seltzer, or even beer (a demi-pêche--beer with peach syrup--is SO good on a hot day). I stuck the syrup and lemon juice combo in a bottle in the fridge to be watered down into lemonade on a per-glass basis, and it's saving me space for an extra bottle of sparkling mineral water, my newest obsession. Even with some sugar syrup splashed in, it's got less fat than a yogurt.

So with my home-made syrop in the fridge and my tart in the bellies of the nice people at the party today, I'm feeling pretty good about my samedi. I also had a first: my first bises while blowing my nose. The standard greeting at any social event here is the bises, the two-cheek kiss-kiss. When I lived in Spain, I had no problem with the kiss-kiss but for some reason, here it drives me nuts. I never know when it's appropriate or not, so I always stand around looking awkward when it's time to say goodbye or be introduced. I feel like my personal space is being invaded and the person giving me the bises is probably giving me some kind of virus simultaneously. And now that I wear glasses, if I bises somebody who has them too, our glasses clink, which is mildly unpleasant. None of this ever bothered me in Spain. Maybe it's because Spanish speakers just seem so much warmer to me that I don't mind being drawn in and touched and connected with. Doing the bises here in France seems to be contrary to the way I'm treated the rest of the time. Lean in for a quick cheek-cheek and then back away to a safe emotional distance. This is, of course, a huge generalization and there are cold Spanish speakers and very warm and open French people. But still, at the party this afternoon (where maybe 80% of attendees were from somewhere in the hispanophone universe), it just wasn't weird to be bised. Not even really by the host, who came over and bised me while I was blowing my nose--as in, tissue held to face during the entire interaction.

Josh is brushing his teeth which is the sign that my samedi is over. Oh dear...just realized I never did the dishes from today's culinary exertions. Guess my day will last just a little while longer, then.

Bonne nuit!

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