14 June 2010 Sunday
I apologize in advance for rather spewing out the contents of my weekend. They went in at random; they may as well get back out in a similar fashion.
Saturday evening (and by evening we mean from maybe eight until around two) we went to a benefit dinner out in Le Fucking Nowhere (a village known as Bonrepos Sur Aussonnelle). This small village puts on a benefit dinner for a fund which helps the local children to study abroad. Eric has friends out there and makes new friends easily; we were a hit. I had mistakenly left my camera behind when we left the apartment and that bummed me out, but the evening was was grand adventure regardless.
We were four (Eric, Julien and Maëlys, and myself). We met loads of folks who live there and many folks in the aerospace industry (Airbus has works in Toulouse). The wine was good and the music was an interesting combination of different cultural classics (including an AC/DC track) from around the globe.
If you want to know more about the association you can visit the blog maintianed by Muriel, De Bonrepos à… Tout Enfant Vivant Ailleurs or TEVA.
What a wonderful way to discover a new place. We all had a great time, and I got to see a fabric of life in France that would otherwise have been utterly unaccessible to an American tourist.
Saturday morning we started by driving over to the Capitolium (Le Capitol) downtown. We partked in the parking garage under the square. There was a band playing in the square, playing (obscure to me) songs in English. There was also a wedding in progress in the Capitolium and so we couldn’t tour the whole building. Nous retournerons. “I hope 2010 will be a good year for you, my friend, but at the mid-point it ain’t too bad”. Yes, Eric; I concur.
We also ran into a group of Frenchies giving away free hugs on the capitol grounds. Free is a nice price to pay for a hug. We left before they kicked us out for fondling les Toulousainne.
We rather just wandered around, me sight seeing and Eric with his mental list of new apartment shit, and let the winds carry us which ever way it was willing.
We visited a crepe stand and talked to the couple who have run that stand for 35 years. They are a minor celebrity here as they and their stand appear in a book on world cuisine. I’ll try to dig up the title later. Nous retournerons.
Also we dropped in to make a brief visit to a friend of Eric. Her name is Sonia and she is about as stunning as my eyes could stand. Polish and Tunisian by blood, and French (even Parisian) in her soul. She was beautiful; her cohorts were beautiful; there is so much eye candy here I need to brush my eyes regularly to avoid cavities. Ah, for A Night in Tunisia…
Afterwards we found Julien and Maëlys, piled into the car, and made our way out into the countryside to find the aforementioned little village. Oh, I found some notes about what we had out there.
There was a punch which consisted (according to my taste buds) of cinamon, orange, and rum. They served curried lentils as an entrée, then the main course was a simple chicken and rice, and finally the dessert was a yogurt, coconut, and fruit concoction. We had some label-less red wine because we all preferred to have red. The village is located in Gers (that’s a department or county near Gers).
Also I found out an interesting association. The parents of Maëlys live in the village depicted (and used for filming) from Le Retour de Martin Guerre.
I made a brief note also about the music at the association benefit.
“A fascinating mix of French, Spanish, and American hits. It’s all about the groove but they don’t quite get the groove. It’s almost like they are one groove over trying to see [into] the next valley [through] the mountain peaks.” [02:16 AM; on the drive back]
I should add a little to that. I liked the music more than what I would expect to find here. The reason is that here there would be a pile of useless, grooveless 80’s music choking normal folks and encouraging zombies to twitch. Is my bias showing through? Anyway, this music was generally dance-able; I merely take issue with the jagged segues. Again, we all had a good time.
Dropped J & M off and headed back out to Bonnefoy. Eric has been having this problem with his passenger window and it picked this lousy opportunity to fall off track. We jury-rigged it near enough to closed for the night and hauled anything and everything out of the car (just in case).
So that was more or less Saturday.
I thought about getting up early on Sunday, but since we didn’t even get back here until three something that didn’t come about. I don’t know, maybe I got up around half past ten. Eric and I talked a little about the window problem. He’ll have to call the insurance folks and visit a glass shop on Monday. Annoying.
I left him to manage some paperwork for his job and also to call the insurance people. (Insurance here is handled by banks, but he was able to call them on a Sunday for whatever reason.) I walked down Bonnefoy toward the center of town to visit Julien who agreed to walk around with me and show me whatever we could see near his place in the afternoon.
Bonnefoy changes names a few times and makes some interesting turns, but finally after only a handful of errors and unnecessary switchbacks I found chez Julien. They were just waking up from the afternoon (after lunch) nap. I felt a little bad but he assured me I was right on time. We walked around the city center for a couple of hours at least.
We visited Jardin des Plantes (essentially a well manicured park in three parts). We also stopped into the courtyard of the there contained natural history museum for some new tastes. I had a cider from Breton, a juice (apple, grapefruit, and something else), and a little sweet called clairfruit (like a custard with whole cherries baked in). The cider was dry (it came it doux and brut; I took brut) and had a very unique flavor. Not what I have come to expect from hard (apple) cider.
Walking through the ancient streets of Toulouse you can see the brilliance of hundreds of years of architects and other builders. It gets hot here. Sunday it was hot (25.5 C or 77.9 F), and this is only June. They have built the buildings close together leaving narrows openings for the passage of air and to ensure shade and to control humidity. The places where the sun was slowing us down and driving the water from deep in our bones to the surface of our skin were only the exposed places: the squares, the boulevards.
Julien knew his neighborhood very well and he took me down some of the smallest streets and around such peculiar corners; it was a promenade of delight for one with my particular tastes. And of course when it is near 80 degrees those femmes toulousainne ne portent pas boucoup. In the battle between skin and cloth, skin was winning for the day. Vive la revolution!
Finally we stopped for a quick beer at an English pub, one where Eric and I had stopped on my first night in, and then back to Julien’s place. He explained to me the five stages of the day as concerns the stomach. You begin your day with le petit dejouner (like a light breakfast; sweets and coffee typically), then around say ten you have collation (maybe some fruit or bread or something else small), then comes dejouner (lunch, usually big followed by a nice nap under ideal conditions) at say 12:30, then comes the goûter around five (basically a little snack of fruit or cheese or sweets or what have you), and finally dinêr around nine in the South and a little earlier as you move North.
Of course since it was after five we went back to his place for goûter. We had some brioche, some cherries, some cookies with raspberry jelly (they looked like tiny tarts), and two wines. We had another Corbières and a Bordeaux (which remended me of certain Pinot Noirs I’ve had from Oregon though it contained no Pinot grapes).
He then introduced me to a show called Kaamelott. It’s a humorous episodic retelling of the Arthurian legend. The episodes are maybe ten minutes each and it ran for five seasons. Since there were no subtitles I did lose some of the humor because humor requires a more adept understanding the language, but I was able to follow along well enough and will try to find it in English when I get back home.
I think I had pretty much exhausted Julien and so I made my way back toward Bonnefoy so I could get in a quick rinse in the shower and think about the next meal. We ordered sushi delivered. Though I admire a city where sushi can be delivered, you don’t fly 9000 miles to France to eat sushi. There is a reason for that. It was a rather like Safeway sushi. I’m a bit spoiled living so much closer to Japan and having such a large Asian population with food passions. But they delivered. It was excellent. Or it would have been had we not had to wait hours for it.
Don’t get me wrong here; the delivery folks did their job. They prepare it to order and so it took them just under forty-five minutes to put it through our door. The problem arose when Eric’s friend Jeff arrived about thirty seconds before the food.
Well, again I should offer some more details. Eric has looking for this and that as is so famously his way, and it took nearly two hours for him to decide what we would order and how to order it and how to pay for it and who knows what else. So we finally got the food ordered and I was busy rejoicing, thinking of the inevitable rise in my blood sugar that was coming within forty-five minutes.
But during the looking phase, you remember that bit that took not minutes but hours, Eric had also talked to his friend Jeff. Jeff was on his way over. It was a race. Jeff won. My stomach took the bronze. I passed out never knowing who took the silver.
Politeness would not allow us to eat until we had sufficiently socialized with Jeff and his companions. Sufficiently here means until they departed of their own freewill. My stomach retired, resolving to get its revenge at a later date.
Jeff was pretty hip. A restaurant industry person. His girlfriend is named Florienne and they arrived also with her sister, XXXXXXXX. Both girls have the beauty hanging on them like a smooth diaphanous film.
They were all pretty nice folks. All from this area. The accent here is a sing-song accent and it’s a little more difficult for me to understand it. Répétez, s’il vous plaît.
They left. We ate. We retired. That was Sunday.