June 23, 2008

Le Nooooord

Posted in family, Les français, Travel, TV and movies tagged , , , , , , , at 1:38 pm by Lauren

This last weekend we finally visited Allen’s French family in the north. We stayed with Allen’s aunt and uncle (his mom’s sister and brother-in-law), who are also Allen’s godmother and Stephanie’s godfather. Charles and Jacqueline live in Maubeuge, which is in Pas de Calais, close to the Belgian border.

Jacqueline is a wonderful cook, and she served us spaghetti bolognaise (homemade sauce, of course!); a tagine of dates, apricots, almonds and lamb with couscous; a spicy Moroccan soup; a crab, avocado, and tomato salad; and many other delicious plates. Each time, it was a typical French meal with a starter, main dish, sometimes cheese, dessert, and then coffee. The French certainly know how to live.

We were very impressed as well with Charles and Jacqueline’s impressive garden, from which we ate lettuce, radish, and strawberries. They also had several fruit trees: pear, apple, and cherry, plus red currant bushes. We hope to grow a small garden when we get back to the States, so we’re keeping their garden in our minds as inspiration. (However, I did admit our failed gardening attempt in the Arlington Community Gardens, where Cate, Allen, and I went back several times to weed and clear our plot, with so much time in between that that’s all we managed to ever do.)

We spent most of the weekend just chatting, and I got to hear stories about Allen and Stephanie when they were young.

On Saturday night, we headed out to the movies to see Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis. Les Ch’tis are the inhabitants of the north of France, particularly Nord Pas de Calais, and they have a distinctive regional dialect that blends the French of today and the Picard dialect of years past. Charles gave us a briefing on different phrases so we wouldn’t be totally lost during the movie. (And still, it was hard to follow, but we got a lot more having had our little lesson. I’d say I was around 85-90%, which is pretty good for any French movie I watch.) The premise of the movie is that a man from the south gets sent to work in the north as punishment – and he really sees it as such, dreading the cold, the strange people, and the overall inhospitable atmosphere. But he turns out to love it…but his wife doesn’t believe him, so there’s a hilarious juxtaposition between the stereotypes of the north and the actuality, which culminates in…ah, go watch the movie! At the beginning, an old man tells him scary tales of the north, and say in a menacing voice, “Le noooooooord…” Charles got a real kick out of that. And apparently, some US film studio has bought the rights, so we’ll see a remake in the US in a few years. Allen and I were trying to guess what regions and people would star – sunny California and hilly West Virginia perhaps?

We had a great time with Charles and Jacqueline, and I was very glad we were able to get up there before the year was out. Maybe next time we visit, we’ll visit the sky-diving school near their house; this time we sat on the porch and watched parachutist after parachutist. Or maybe we’ll just watch again.

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1 Comment »

  1. Brandilina said,

    It sounds like a very lovely weekend! What a way to go out – and quite the cuisine. I expect all kinds of recipies when you return. I am so glad to know that you two have so thouroughly enjoyed your time in Paris and have shared it with us! We really enjoy hearing your adventures and you inspire us. As we trudged uphil to Guachimontones (how wrong is it to include Mexican ruins in a blog about Paris??), passed by car after car of folks opting to take a taxi or car up the hill rather than walk like the foolish American touristas, Steven actually said “we are doing this Lauren and Allen style.” Love to you both!


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