January 16, 2009
As I've written recently, French days in France are usually full. Varied. Rich. Full.
These are days when time moves to it's own clock, counting events and moments rather than minutes and hours. Time to stir the pot and cook slowly.
Tic, tic- 20 minutes to gather dried twigs for kindling.
Tic, toc- 30 minutes to drive across the frosty countryside to pick up more beans.
Tic, toc, tic- an hour goes by standing in line waiting for the phone shop to wait on me.
Ding, ding, dong, screammmmmmmmm. the village bells and siren announce lunchtime and EVERYONE must stop for 2 hours and close their doors- post office, banks, grocery stores. Oh, forgot? get back in your car and drive home to wait until after the 2 o'clock return rush hour to reopen!!!!
tic, tic, tic...clip, clip- the quiet time passing as 2 acres of fruit trees and roses get clipped one by one during a quiet 2 hour lunch of winter gardening.
See, that's how France works for me; harmonious units of time interrupted by screaming fits of being out of sync. Mostly it is the harmony and rhythm of these days that I so love. It takes an hour to prune an old crab apple tree. Another for the fig. Who cares? There is time enough in every season. right?
But what happens when culture clashes and the sound of a micro-digital chronometer meets the steel village church bells. It's like that old kids' game- rock, paper, scissors. The steel bells wins- every time. I call these the French Moments, the head shaking 'I don't get it' moments, when my American self gets taken off at the knees.
All this to try to explain why those wonderful Not Brother cassoulet pots that were mailed out before Christmas still haven't arrived? My local French La Poste Mistress assures me, "Madame, 12-15 days delivery time means 12-15 working days; no saturdays, no sundays and, mon Dieu, all those holidays, too. It was mailed economique, oui? (I can hear the Gallic shrug!) So this package you mailed to the Etats Unis December 19? Then it is only 4 days late. It's a long way. Don't worry!"
She smiled and I said, "Merci et au revoir, Madame". So please, in the ticking minutes of late deliveries and anxious mistrust of all involved, take a deep breath, think how many long weeks it took to throw, dry, glaze and fire the cassole pot, and think about who you will invite to help you make and eat that great cassoulet. When the cassole arrives. In a Long French Moment, thanks.
And to keep your cassoulet appetites whet and inspired, see what Riana is doing in her Slow Kitchen here at Garlic Breath!