We are here, chez nous a Mirabel. Here is the story of our first day.
Day 1. After sleeping for 12 hours from long plane ride from Dayton, Chicago, Munich, Marseille and the hour and a half drive to Mirabel, we headed out to Nyons to do some food shopping at the Intermarche.
On the way, we checked to see if our favorite wine cave was open. We had bought some wine from them last year on day two or three and never found them open again for the rest of our three weeks!
Amazingly enough, six months later, we found the wine (Constant Duquesnoy) at the small wine store in Studio City when we were visiting Lia.
And luckily enough, today they were open. We went in, had a lovely conversation in English/French with the owner, who coincidently was preparing a large shipment of wine to his distributor in California! There was only one case of white left, which we bought. Amazing.
Because we started out so late, we actually arrived in Nyons in time to have lunch in one of our favorite restaurants – father in front, mother/chef in back, daughter and grandmere eating lunch along with the customers. And we noticed how much the little girl has grown since last year!
It was market day in Nyons (which we missed), so the restaurant was crowded and we got the last table. The restaurant is small with an interesting menu (formula) that allows you to choose whether you want your plat served a la francaise ou a la asia. The wife/chef is Japanese.
Restaurants in France are open at set times and ONLY those set times. Lunch is usually 12-2. If you are hungry at 2:15, you are out of luck. So we plan accordingly.
We did our supermarket shopping and headed home. I am hoping to do much more cooking here than the last time and will buy my meat and poultry at the boucherie which is around the corner from our house.
We will eat leftover sandwiches and a salad for dinner tonight and have a day out tomorrow in Vinsobres, the neighboring town, home of 17 vineyards. Our goal is to go to every single one!
Here is a photo of the boulangerie where we buy our daily bread. The small street to the right is rue General de Gaulle, where our house is located.
Day 2. It is Friday, which means market day in Mirabel. I am hoping to be able to manage well enough to buy some fish and some beef for a daube (stew). And I need some other things.
All this involves going to the fish truck at the outdoor market, trying to figure out what fish is what, then going to the butchers and asking for “boeuf pour une daube” and then going to the epicerie (grocers) and picking out what else I need (apples, an orange, some heavy cream, etc.)
All in French (and kilos).
But, it is a beautiful sunny day and off I go. First to the market and the fish vendor. This fish vendor is rather famous and not sure why he comes to this very small market here in Mirabel. There are two chevre (goat cheese) stands, one person who sells samosas(!), the vegetable person, and that’s it.
But the fish vendor is there and I recognize most of the fish. Tempted to buy mussels, but I have never cooked them, so I settle for some filet of sole. I will cook it for lunch today along with the endives and some rice from the Camargue. The Camargue is on the Mediterranean and is famous for its rice. I don’t think I have had any of this kind of rice since I was here in 1964!
I also stopped in the boucherie (butchers). The wife was behind the counter and I asked for boeuf pour une daube in French. She immediately knew what I wanted, and cut the beef into pieces. Then I asked about the terrines – trying to find out what they were made from. One was duck with pistache, which I bought.
Then she and I had a short conversation about speaking English and French. She told me that she speaks French and English with a “Provencal” accent. I said, in French, that I speak French with an accent “Etats Unis”. She then told me that her 9 year old daughter was learning English and Provencal in school!
Provencal is the ancient language of this area, mostly French, but with some Italian and Spanish kinds of sounds and spellings. They are trying to revive it – you can see street signs written in French and Provencal, but I didn’t know that they were actually teaching it in school.
So, practical tasks accomplished and a real conversation in French!
I also notice that the receipt I received from the butcher is in Euros, but at the bottom, it tells me how much it cost in Francs and actually gives the exchange rate (1 euro = 6.559 Francs). What is this? Has it always been this way? Is it something to do with the fact that the Euro is having some challenges and the French are going back to the Franc?