February 6, 2008

Dejeuner chez les francais

Posted in Les français tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:23 am by Lauren

On Sunday (February 3), Allen and I had a social outing! Wow! Okay, that may not be as exciting to you, but it can get lonely over here. We were invited to lunch with Antoine and Typhaine! We have made a goal to try to see them more, since we know few people here, and fortunately they want to see us more too (so far).

Their apartment was small but charming, with exposed beams and hardwood floors. We munched on a sort of chicken salad on slices of fresh bread and a bowl of fresh radishes, while sipping white wine. Somehow we always end up with Allen and Antoine talking diagonally and Typhaine and I talking across them, but it was great practice for our French. (At least for me, tuning out one conversation in French and having another at the same time is not easy!) Lunch was asperagus “from the garden” (from Picard) and a typically-French gratin that Typhaine made with potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, and a couple of other veggies topped with grated cheese. Over lunch, we chatted about eating (what else?), our recent travels (they’d just been to Thailand), and French vacation policies. Then we shared an apple tart that Allen and I had picked up, and Antoine pulled out some very interesting digestifs. My favorite was a Spanish dessert wine, but we also tried the very strong mirabelle made with the fruit of the same name. This particular mirabelle was actually made from fruits from Typhaine’s father’s garden in Nancy. They asked if we did the same sort of alcohol-making in the US – not really. The mirabelle was, as I mentioned, very strong, and Antoine and Typhaine told us that it’s referred to as un trou (a hole) because it burns up everything you’re trying to digest so you can eat some more!

After lunch, they suggested that we go to the Centre Pompidou because it was the first Sunday of the month (and thus the museum would be free). It was only a couple of blocks from their house, but there was a predictably long line. We bypassed the line and continued down towards the quais instead. We wandered onto Ile de la Cite, but got cold sitting in front of Notre Dame, so they suggested they accompany us home, knowing it was close. So we led them over to Ile Saint-Louis, and none of us could resist a visit to Berthillon. Antoine and Typhaine got 1/2 liter boxes of orange sanguine and a chocolate flavor. We chose a 1/2 liter of apricot to take home.

When we arrived back at our apartment, we brought them up to show them the place. We’d already said how sorry we were that we couldn’t host a lunch or dinner here, so it might have been good that they were able to see exactly why! But we set a date for our next meeting in a couple of weeks and decided we’d speak English then. This got Antoine on the topic of their trip to Thailand again and told us how the Thai spoke English with such an awful accent that Typhaine (having more experience with English) couldn’t understand it. Antoine, with his lack of English experience, figured out what the words for and translated for Typhaine, who then answered the Thai person. Apparently the Thai were completely baffled by their weird arrangement.

Eventually, they remembered their melting ice cream and went on their way. We cracked our ice cream open that evening to find this beautiful molded creation.

Berthillon Apricot Ice Cream

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