|The Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia|
I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. It was a combination of being in an unknown place, in a strange bed and a lot on my mind. The insistent drumming was a soothing melody, I told myself, and not a strident get-up-now call. My mind game must have worked as when I woke several hours later, it was still raining but the cool, confident drummer had finished his act and stepped aside, replaced by a less heavy handed timpani scratcher. I lay in bed listening to the rhythm of the drops on the tin roof.
The day before had been one of those rare days when I had been graced with multiple shining pearls of joy. The magpie, that oh-so-Australian bush warbler, was the first. He had watched me prepare my toast, but had remained on the balustrade and respectfully distant, as any good entertainer knows to do, singing – no, serenading me – as I spread first the butter and then, salivating in anticipation, the marmelade; thick, chunky, juicy.
I had already been for an early morning walk through the bush and although nature had done its trick and filled me with deep lungfuls of fresh air and a welcome calm, breakfast was a recompense of sorts.
Fast-forward to dinner and I was hungry. Fresh air, exercise and the mountains do that to me. Not eating much does it too. We had spoiled ourselves and eaten out. Uncharacteristically, I had selected both an entrée and a main course and wondered how the chef would interpret my order: home-made (not French) pâté followed by vegan pie.
A difficult, quirky or confused client? Yes, I have been all of those things but, of all the menu items, those two from opposite ends of the meat-eating spectrum were what appealed.
I devoured both courses with bursts of culinary commentary – reminiscing fondly about the first time that I had had pâté served to me.
Then, years before, and in our BF (Before France) era, our little family unit had been special guests of a French family.
« May I take your jackets? » the most polite teenage boy of our hosts had asked the children when we arrived.
« Where? » Molly had asked, wrapping her cardigan more closely around herself.
My turn to try and exchange discomfort for delight came next when, after a heady pre-dinner Chambord and champagne, the adults sat down for dinner, peeking at each other through the flowers and over the placemats, napkins and formal dinnerware … holding thick grey grainy slabs of something slightly unsettling, atop circles of dark bread and next to neatly cut cubes of butter and cute-as-a-button cornichons (pickles). Specially ordered from France, we were being treated to the finest of French starters and I consumed it; my pâté, smiling widely, nodding carefully and sipping frequently on my sparkling water.
How our tastes and outlook have changed. And, how grateful I am for each and every morsel.
Of course, being in the Blue Mountains, there was a quick stop at The French Shoppe to sign books.
And now, channeling my best Julie Andrews …
|‘But you are in France, Madame’ for sale|
Rain drops on rooftops and thick, luscious marmelade
Warbling minstrels and wind sighing escapades
Time to savour the delights on my plate
These are a few of my favourite states.
PS ‘Sound of Music’ another favourite thing.
PPS Not heading to the Blue Mountains near Sydney in Australia any time soon?
Here is a link to purchase the first of my books. Wherever you are in the world, it should take you to a purchase option in your country.