Monday, 30 January 2012

A little french socialising

I still don't have a network of friends and no close family here in France 16 months after I arrived here. But my work colleague Victoria and I work closely from time to time, helping each other out, sharing frustrations, laughing things off, taking an interest in each other's journey in life.

My studio is impossible to have guests in for a meal, a really decent French lunch party so I invited Victoria and her husband and her little daughter to have lunch with Jean-Claude and me at JC's place. Once again, it took hours of preparation, not including the hours of grocery shopping. Things are done just so. Lots of courses again. Lots of time spent chatting about food, wine, some politics, work, JC's past experiences. Everyone got on well and 3.5year-old Doris coped well. I tried hard to cope with the French conversations and participate.

So how does one entertain a very young girl as the hours tick by? I tried to explain things to her, ask questions on her behalf if she was too shy, and watch Ice Age in French with her cuddled up on my lap. It was while I was looking at Manny and Diego etc, feeling the warmth of a little body against mine that I thought back to the good times with my daughter when she was small enough to want cuddles while we watched TV or a VHS. Such a shame kids grow out of that- the best part of being a parent- the physical closeness and the love that transmits without words.

The other entertainment for Doris was her interest in taking photos. She had her own little camera but when she caught sight of my Nikon DSLR her's was no longer acceptable-a girl with good taste. Though she's only three she's smart so I knew she'd be careful with it. I made sure she had the strap around her neck and showed her how to look through the viewfinder and not at the screen. Some of her photos aren't worth showing you but the one of me and her parents is a Doris creation, taken, as you can imagine, by a very short person. She looked so incredibly cute and serious capturing anything that caught her interest.

With me and Doris in the living room it gave the others a chance to get acquainted and discuss whatever they wanted. The weather didn't allow us to don our gumboots and go for a walk around JC's property or the village so the hours passed in conversation instead. The French are amazing with their interest in long conversations so meals last hours longer than they would do in NZ. Even then we didn't get around to offering tea and coffee.

Once again we offered appetiser snacks, a first course and then, this time, a roast lamb but not done the traditional way in NZ. It was cooked in a thin liquid sauce. I roasted potatoes and carrots. This main course was followed by the obligatory cheese, salad, and bread and wine were always on hand. My dessert offering this time was Queen Pudding - an old seventeenth century English dish which JC really likes.I served it with a fresh fruit salad of blackberries, green grapes, blueberries, oranges, strawberries and cape gooseberries.

Queen Pudding has a base made from fluffy breadcrumbs, egg yolks, sugar and warm milk and lemon zest, cooked and then spread with jam and topped with a peaky meringue. My Gran taught me how to make it but it's only in the past few weeks that I've been making it for JC. You can find a recipe for it on the internet quite easily. Just make sure you've got the amounts of milk and breadcrumbs in the right proportions for each other or it won't set or it is too hard and dense.

It was lovely sharing time with them, reconnecting with Victoria's family. We'll catch up again in the summer. So my first attempt at a formal french 'lunch' party was a success that's to great company and all JC's help. My next 'first' will be to make my very first Pavlova to introduce JC to NZ's national dessert.


Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.