Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Escargot Dilemma

I can't think of many situations in which one child's new-found culinary delicacy is another child's beloved class project. And yet Eleanor's snail, currently living in the lap of luxury (check out the potato and tomato, and I do believe that's arugula on the side) is threatened by Oliver's desire to drench it in melted garlic herb butter. These competing plans were discussed on the walk home, and it was only about halfway through, when we started getting loud about it, that I realized it was going on in French. "Mais arrête, sale bête!" said Eleanor (Barbapapa taught her that delightful insult - nasty beast) "Mmmm, ce sera délicieux" conjugated Oliver (future tense!). Is that when you know there's progress and glory? When your kids argue in a new language? Iris threw is several "Mais c'est pas possible, les gars" a couple of times for good measure. By the times we walked past the goats and geese, I was pretty much "pliée en deux" (folded in two - from laughing) and could do nothing to help the argument as to whether snails make better pets or appetizer. To each his own - surely there's a French philosopher who said that, non?

All things being fair in love and cooking, I feel that I have to show the other side of the argument. I'll confess to leaning slightly towards Oliver's point of view (is that me drooling?), but gee whiz, look at Eleanor's face! All this to say, I do think that kids' arguments are a gauge of how settled you might be in a place. It's about local things becoming part of the dynamic between them, about their turning to the nearest thing (which just happen to be escargots) and using that to test each other out, have their fun, and work out all those complex emotions of love, competition, and discovery that kids process all day every day. I admire them so much.

So some of you have asked if we've caught World Cup fever? You bet! We're working out the switch to digital TV (the only people in all of France who didn't get their act together before the World Cup), but the Alzé and the Taverne both have been showing the matches. The kids, of course, are totally into the vuvuzelas, which are really worth reading about if you don't know about them. Listening to the vuvuzelas is another matter. Right now, I'm getting most of my soccer education from the Guignols, so I have a pretty twisted view of things. But then, I'm encouraged in such thinking by students sending me links such as this one. Yea, soccer!

Oh, there's so much I want to write about! I want to register the helplessness and insistent horror of the BP oil disaster (and worry about the North Carolina and Florida coasts where we have friends) - I want to wish both José and Roxanne great and good luck on their oral exams this week (this would be part of a huge post on French exams for grown-ups - wo-ha!) - and I want to shout it out from the rooftops: we have our Titre de Séjour!!! We are officially, retro-actively legal in France; and with two weeks to spare at that. And we get a nice commemorative X-ray of our tuberculosis-free lungs! We are totally keeping them, too.

But instead I must pack for my last research foray to Paris tomorrow. I'll be at the Richelieu site looking at four manuscripts over three and a half days. None of these have been edited, so it'll be slow going, me and my faltering paleography and my pretty good 16th-century French. But BN ms. fr. 6072 is described as "les Épîtres de Mahomet II empereur des Turcs à divers princes et républiques traduits en français." Can you believe that's never been edited? What a treasure-house. Since there are no illustrations, I'll be perfectly content with a microfilm (which are being read in the Salle Ovale you see here - no small beer, as Henry IV would say) - but of course, there'll be a thrill if there's a chance to handle an actual 16th century manuscript... I have a couple of dinner dates lined up and already can't wait to settle into those long meals with friends. Absolutely simultaneously, I can't wait to pull into Josselin on the bus at 11 p.m. on Saturday night and wake up with the kids on Sunday morning.


  1. Hello dear friend,

    Smiling while reading this post—all the while really hearing the kids going back and forth on this latest dilemma. Yay for you all!...you've really done it so well—amazing and inspiring as ever, although not entirely surprising.
    Full of thoughts of you as you trek back to Paris for those final research days and hoping all goes well—glad to hear that your evenings will be full of food and friends.

    Missing you and your little tribe so very much and ever thankful for the glimpse of your wonderful life in beautiful Brittany. Kisses all around!


  2. Missing _you_ and our discoveries together - it made everything new again having you here, including Paris, France! Research is happening swiftly despite the construction (which is slated to go until 2017, so i guess they've found a way to carry on!).

    love to you guys - can't wait to read your blog again!