Sunday, June 8, 2014

French Truths...Delicieux

We had not been in France for 3 hours when it all came crashing back; in the very nicest way; France has perfected life as an art form. Details, time to talk, to eat, to care. Every person we have spent time with this past week has been generous in this way; naturally and not once glancing at their watch or time on their phone. First story:

The family we had never met; a long-lost aunt, Chantal (not my story to tell, though some would make a great novel) and her husband, Zvonco, who came here as a refuge from Croatia 45 years ago, has us immediately drop our suitcases in their gorgeous foyer so they could serve us refreshment. They've built a beautiful life in beautiful Paris and welcomed us ready to share it all.

Cate, doing the American teen thing. Anywhere. Everywhere. (Please lift your head and look around you for five minutes.) Here in her Great Aunt and Uncle's Parisian home:

They sat with us, sipping champagne and refilling the kids' juice glasses, as though there was nothing else in the world that needed doing. As we chatted and then began to fall asleep around the table, Uncle Zvonco decided it would be good to feed us all now and let us go to 5:30 in the afternoon, which would be like feeding 9 people a 4-course meal at 3pm in the States!

There was a fish course; shrimp and two terrines; one of scallops, one salmon. Next was the meat and vegetable course; but I think I might have slept through that one. Then the cheese platter, an excellent one, salad and dessert; a big square of chocolate deliciousness; light, airy, creamy and dark all at the same time. We got the kids settled in their beds and sleeping arrangements, and sat up and talked for a while before hitting, oh-so-gratefully, the pillow.

The next evening's meal was young goat; an entire young goat on a spit over the outdoor kitchen fireplace. A couple more uncles were invited, and the weather was balmy. We sat outside for hours chatting while the goat roasted, poor beast.  With apologies to vegetarians everywhere and to the goat, I have to say that was the best meat I've ever tasted.

I've often felt sort of sorry for people who had to live in Paris; that reverse snobism of someone who loves the country and wilderness and space. How did they ever enjoy fresh air, or build up a decent supply of wine like any self-respecting French person? Oh; so wrong! 1) Everyone walks everywhere in Paris. 2) Take a look at the secret lives of true honest-to-goodness wine cellar in a tiny house in the city:

Uncle Zvonco choosing a bottle:

Our hosts at home:



  1. Oh what a delightful home they have. And the food just made me swoon. I do so look forward to hearing about it all from you when you return.

    Your petit chien has settled in without a hitch. He is comfortable and spoiled rotten. He loves the evening meal he and Archie share, some grains (rice usually) mixed in a salt free but gently seasoned beef broth with carrots and small pieces of beef. I tell, you add some salt, and anyone one would eat it, it's good

    Keep posting, I love your posts. And tell Mademoiselle Cate to put down the phone.

  2. your husband looks happier, as if a veil has been lifted from his head and he's in his element, 100%. These hosts are wonderful. teens everywhere are addicted to their phones, my son was at the junior high in France all of them, have some sort of really nice phone. the foods you describe are delightful, I miss the variety. I do know that at 20h everything does stop and everyone is glued to 20h news. I love your blog, keep writing the good, the bad, the reality. Love it.

  3. Marlis; thank you!!! My dog thanks you; he is as spoiled by you as we are by the family. He is the only obstacle to complete freedom from worry here; the kids miss him a ton, so it is good to hear how happy he must be in our absence. I hope he will still want to come home in July!
    The food is too good for my waist-line. I love it! I walk every day, everywhere, so it all balances out. I will give Cate the message.

  4. Thank you, Mme Secret Lives! My husband is home, life is good. The in-laws are happy; their little ones are here, and the wicked American did not screw them up too thoroughly.
    My poor teens; we have yet to meet up with any other kids their age. That will be today's goal; lurk outside the nearest lycee at 5:30 when classes get out.


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