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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Country Life Confidental – Part One

 

French Country Elegance

She was beyond elegant. Immaculately coiffed. Exquisitely tailored. Equally “prêt” for shopping on the Champs Elysee, or a stroll through the Bois du Bologne. Her dancers body arcing delicate,repetitive motions with effortless grace. As I crossed the courtyard,our eyes met. She fixed me with an impersonal frown. Then, scraping her rake along the pavement to impale another leaf spat out: “I ‘ate ze country!” This is my indelible memory of “Marie from Paree.”

When She is not there, She is where We met. At her Brother’s house in the Bordeaux countryside. Marie is, as the phrase goes, “a Woman of a certain age.” Exactly what age, I did not, and was not, sufficiently interested to determine. Although her innocent revelation that She was “A few years older than my Brother”, did give me a clue.

The Mysteries Of Beauty

Suffice to say, that whether through good genes, great cosmetics, plastic surgery, yoga, or all of the above, “Marie from Paree” would have been the envy of most Women over forty. Marie was also, to use the French phrase, a “personnage.” A catch-all adjective that can mean : “Eccentric”, “A freak”, “A character”, “Larger than life”, “Marching to the beat of a different drummer”, or  all of the above.

Marie had a small atelier where She restored religious object d’art. Her speciality was gold leaf. Which came in way handy for Brother Rene, who flogged religious object d’art. Whenever He had a crucifix or two that needed a little more sheen, He knew where to send ‘em.

Although Rene was the third generation in the “buy-a-piece-of-an-ancient-church biz”, He was the first to do it on the internet. I dug his business model. Lives in the country. Buys low. Sells High. Ships Worldwide. The majority of Rene’s clients were in the excited states. Being the World’s largest overdeveloped market, it had the highest percentage of wackos who could not face the day without fondling a napkin from the last supper, or a strap from the sandal of John the Baptist.

I’d met Rene the previous Summer, (this being Autumn) when I stopped to film the converted stone mill (Moulin) where he lives. Non-cooking, stranger-friendly, and temporarily abandoned by Wifey, Rene was more than over the Moon to have the exotic stranger from the far away lands stay and rustle up some grub.

BG’s French Cuisine Improv.

This, dear reader, turned out to be rustlin’s most challenging hour. The only edible item was a jar of confit. (pro – con-fee) As you’ll no doubt recall from French food preservation 101, this is a cooked dead thing, usually a duck or goose, packed in it’s own fat in a quart sized mason jar. The usual method of preparation for this staple of the South-West French diet is simply to pour the whole enchildada into the pan, heat and serve.                     

However, being a “fat makes me hurl” kind guy, I modified the recipie, by straining off the fat, then after washing the remaining slime off Donald, dropped him into an herbal béchamel to simmer. Served with new potatoes (Charlottes, from Spain), bread and wine, it sent Rene into raptures sufficient to produce a return invivation.

As I said, it was Rene’s house that originally stopped me in my tracks. Mainly, because half of it is a complete ruin! That half, dating back untold Centuries, no roof, walls crumbling, is the Summer Bar-b-que location. Where it joins the “liveable” inside section, the garbage and re-cycling bins live. The half that does have a roof, (but no central heating), is a rectangular affair, with kitchen, dining room, living room and Rene’s office on the first floor. Upstairs, three bedrooms.

Part Two – Next Time

THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

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10 Responses to “French Country Life Confidental – Part One”

  1. milton kennedy says:

    Your narrative talents never cease to impress. Bravo. Again.

  2. carla hostelier says:

    i feel as though i’m right there with you, the way you describe everything; almost as as good as being there. (or one of your videos!)

  3. randy bachelor says:

    After your description….can’t wait to see the house!….pictures coming in the next installment i hope?

  4. jack gideon says:

    i love that line “a strap from the sandal of John the Baptist” – Really defines fanatics – of all stripes.

  5. prudence makepeace says:

    While I agree with Jack’s comment – ALL your lines bristle with newness as far as I’m concerned. (And yes, I am a former English teacher!)

  6. stacy dartmouth says:

    Your opening paragraph is on a par with any of the great writers.

  7. bronwynn algester says:

    Your writings just keep getting deeper and deeper. – But not dense! (lol!)What I mean is i feel like you are getting further under the skin of what like is really like there; Not what we with no real experience ASSUME it’s like.

  8. renown sylvester says:

    i waiting for the next part of this very nice story. thanking you so much.

  9. yester davis says:

    The only thing that would make this great article any better is a video. More comin I hope?

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