• Alice Scott

Who was in charge of the sugar ?

Since the day we moved into the money pit, we've got on with our neighbours, not only that they like us and we them.  One conversation was "Why don't you come and join the committee, it'll be good for your French and you get to see more people".  What can possibly go wrong ?  I'm in.

Let me explain something about where I live, it's a small village but luckily we have a lot going on.  The highlight of the social calendar is our "Fete du pain".  The villagers bake the bread, badly, it's always burned on the bottom.  I'd prefer fromage, but you can't very well suggest breaking a twenty year tradition and you're still new and new ideas don't go down to well here.  Suck it up buttercup and dig in.

I arrive bright and early Saturday, the day before our festival.  I'm wearing white trousers, it's August, they laugh, out of my bag I produce an apron, they no longer laugh.  It's clear I mean business today and I'm on catering.  I'm peeling 120kgs of potatoes with either other woman and a lovely elderly gentleman called Georges (what is it about that name ? Remember the estate agent in the Gironde). 

I am prepared, the Larousse dictionary and an enthusiasm which will not be thwarted.  We have one hundred and ninety seven people all expecting food not food poisoning tomorrow, let's do this.    The menu is simple - melon and parma ham, with a shot of Cognac Schweppes added at the end, these will be done on the day.  Hache Parmantier, we're making that today, hence the Mont Blanc of spuds, I'm of Irish decent but even I'm not that keen at this point.  Followed by a pastry dish filled with white cheese, at least, cheese, simple.  Then I looked at the table of kitchen supplies.  Let's just say nobody has heard of Lakeland Plastics. 

The French amaze me, tiny kitchens, no gadgets and they produce the most incredible food.  We have the old fashioned tin opener, the kind you'd get on a swiss army knife, you stab it and hope you pierce the tin not yourself, and some blunt knives for peeling and chopping.  We're in France people, where's the French peeler, no problem, popped home and got mine.  Men are the only ones allowed to cook the meat, the women folk on mash which when the potatoes are peeled and boiled, they are put into (new) black dustbins, knocked about A LOT and stirred with a boat paddle.   It's all going swimmingly, pun intended, until the unthinkable happens, we've run out of sugar for the dessert.  Panic and 14 iPhones come out of handbags, but we don't have a real tin opener or potato peeler. 

The day was perfect, we had a parade, everyone dressed up, around 40 litres of Cognac Schweppes and I have no idea how many bottles of wine.

My neighbour, who roped me into this in the first place asks me : "Did you enjoy it ?  Glad you joined in ?' I was, it was wonderful.  "Can you do some waitressing at Gabure ?  I'll put you down for that".  Why not. Alice X

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