You won't believe this but last night we had another fantastic meal! I know, we just haven't had the chance to have a gustatory experience here (haha). I've just resigned myself to the fact that a lot of our activities revolve around meals. However, the French have a different attitude than those of us from Etats-Unis. Meals last for several hours whether you're at home or a restaurant. Restaurants will seat you at your table and assume that you will stay for the evening. They don't plan on seating anyone else there unless you leave--there's no pressure for you to go and you don't have to feel bad for staying and staying. You're not eating the whole time necessarily. You can sit and drink coffee or water or wine or whatever and feel comfortable.
All this is to say that we went to the home of Nancy's friend, Claude. Another woman, Anne who speaks only French was there as well. Anne and I bonded instantly because she also had a severe hip fracture so we compared scars, surgery stories and rehabilitation nightmares all through our interpreter, my sister.
So, we five women met at Claude's home in Toulouse and were immediately seated at an outdoor table where we noshed on the appetizers: foie gras (goose liver which I did not eat), salmon wrapped in something like a croissant and several other wonderful treats. Our drinks were sparkling wine and a great tasting orange liqueur. When our huge plate was empty, Claude brought out another.
The large silver colored salt and pepper grinders to the right were automatic, dispensing fresh seasoning at the push of a button. They also had a light that would go on at the bottom so you could see what you were seasoning!
This was a chocolate mousse that melted in my mouth! With fresh whipped cream and chocolate powder on top. I would have licked my bowl if it weren't completely against the French etiquette code.
That reminds me, we did need a quick orientation before we got there on the "code".
1. When going through a gate or door, you indicate that the others should go before you. After a few rounds of "Apres vous" "Non, apres vous" one person will go ahead saying, "Pardone". I went first because I'm lame.
2. When the hostess brings in the food you do not start until she does. She will also give the signal by saying Bon Appetit and indicating it is OK to start.
3. Compliment the cook during the meal (NO problem with this meal)
4. No bodily noises or odors. This is not one of those countries where a burp is a compliment.
5. Don't lick out your dessert bowl or glass.
6. Do have a magnifique time. Laugh, talk and laugh some more. Above all, have a wonderful time.
And we certainly did!
(PS Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our trip to Collioure, an ancient seaside village on the Mediterranean Sea)