Not quite a year yet in our new location and we received our third international visitors last month (with the 4th due next week from California!). It must be the year of travel.
Just short of 80 years of age and with no signs of slowing down, my Aunty Marg and Uncle Rob dropped in via Spain on their way to ……..the Arctic. And one of my old high school friends and her lovely daughter (whom my daughter had been impatiently waiting for) visited on their voyage between Scandanavia and Paris. These visits were an excuse for lots of talking, drinking wine, eating croissants (which we never do otherwise) and exploring more of what this ‘south-west’ region of France has to offer.
We visited Samatan in the Gers (the department to the west of the Haute Garonne where we live) which holds a traditional live poultry market every Monday. And ‘poultry’ includes rabbits here! My relatives pointed out that tying the chickens together by their legs would not be allowed in Australia. It got me thinking about the treatment of animals here (especially as this market also had a section dedicated to the controversial foie-gras) and that made me think back to a classic French cookery book that my gastronomic mother (who is in my thoughts daily) kept on the top of the fridge.
As I child I was horrified to see photos of dead animals next to the corresponding recipes….but the relationship between the meat on the table and the animals from which it comes is not avoided in this country – as it tends to be in Australia.
Another day and we were off to The Tarn (the department to the north-east). First to wine region of Gaillac for wine tasting and visiting the quaint (narrow) roads and then to the hill-top village of Cordes sur Ciel. We ate lunch in the old ‘halles’ (where markets are conducted) and I wondered how the people managed to carry their wares up such a steep 30 minute ascent all of those years ago.
As my friend Geraldine and I explored the center of Toulouse on another day we could ‘hear’ the French football/soccer team playing in one of The World Cup matches (the football World Cup is held every 4 years and is followed closely by fans and non-fans alike): at each French goal there were loud cheers pouring from all of the bars and cafés. It was a festive moment and although I’m not a football fan, I do hope that France gets to the final (only now that Australia has been eliminated). I’m sure it would pick-up the French spirit – at least for a little while.
Geraldine had the ‘honor’ of witnessing the dance routines at my children’s school fete – in the scorching sun – and of the process of resigning my daughter up in an extra-curricular activity for the next academic year: this is something I dread each year. This particular time it involved completing 17 pages of paperwork, attaching numerous documents including a photo, 3 stamped envelopes, medical insurance.. and then standing in a long queue only to be told in the end (as is very often the case) that something was missing or incorrect! Argghhhhh!
We also had two families that we’d met in Shanghai – and who now live one hour away (one to the north and the other to the south) – come over for an Aussie BBQ (although it couldn’t really be called that as there was no beer and we didn’t ask the guests to bring their own meat as Aussie tradition would have it).
Reconnecting with folk is a wonderful means of sharing and reminiscing about the past but also of exploring and creating new memories……….and of course eating.
Thank you folks!