This is the time of year when our friends from the next village celebrate their birthdays. Michel’s is January 29th and Marie’s is February 4th. We usually try to get together the weekend in between the two dates.
This year we were invited to their house and, as usual, Marie laid on a superb spread. We met a friend of theirs who was staying with them: a lovely lady who spoke excellent English.
We started with aperitifs and nibbles. Marie had the brilliant idea of giving everyone thier own dish of ‘amuses bouches’ – savoury pastries – so that she didn’t have to keep passing things round. It also ensured that people ate what they were given.
Yaris, the dog kept trying her luck at begging and, although I know Marie disapproves, I couldn’t resist giving in and letting her share some of mine.
We chatted about this and that and Michel told us about his grandmother’s custom for Chandeleur. (It falls on 2nd February and it’s traditional to make pancakes). She used to tell the children that if you tossed a pancake up the chimney and then ran outside and caught it in the pan you would be rich. I’d heard about tossing the pancake with one hand while holding a coin in the other but I wonder how many people ever succeeded with the chimney version!
This was followed by guinea fowl with roast potatoes and green beans, then a selection of cheeses and the meal was rounded off with Marie’s homemade applecake, a wonderfully light concoction like an egg custard.
Coffee and digestifs were served in the comfort of the armchairs and Bear was soon snoring loudly.
The rest of us chatted for a while and then Bear woke up and claimed he hadn’t been asleep. Michel gave him a copy of a CD which was of particular local interest. The music was by Louis and Ernest Letrange. Louis had taught piano to Arthur Rimbaud (a poet associated with Charlevillle) and his son Ernest had been Michel’s organ teacher. Michel had been given lots of their compositions for piano which he donated to the Conservatoire in Charleville where one of the teachers arranged certain pieces for trumpet and organ and then they were recorded.
We came home about half past five feeling wellfed and ‘watered’.
On Tuesday it’s the Repas des Anciens – another huge meal to look forward to.