Jet lag: I went to bed at 10:30 last night but had to get up again about midnight. I just couldn't sleep. I watched a Paris talk show until about 2:00 a.m. and then went to bed. I slept some.
Culture shock: In my early morning grogginess, I thought to myself: When I go to the market this morning to get some garlic, onions, and shallots, and some bread, I'll stop in the maison de la presse — the newsstand — right on the market square and get a big fat Sunday paper to read. I had in mind the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Raleigh News & Observer, or the Chicago Tribune, all papers I read on my Sundays in the U.S. last month.
Once I was wide awake and ready to drive over to the market, I thought about it again. There is no Sunday paper in France comparable to the American Sunday newspapers. Oh well. No big deal. There's always the Internet, where I can read all the American papers. Meet the Press is on CNBC on our satellite TV system later this afternoon.
We ended up not going to the market in Saint-Aignan yesterday after all. It was raining, and the main purposes for going were to say hello to Mme Doudouille and some of the other vendors, enjoy the market atmosphere, and buy a chicken and a head of lettuce. Rain pretty much spoils the atmosphere, and chickens and lettuce are available at the indoor supermarkets. I'll say hello to Mme Doudouille next Saturday.
With the chicken we made a Rick Bayless recipe for Pollo Adobado — Mexican-style marinated chicken — for lunch today. The marinade is a loose purée of roasted red bell peppers, home-pickled cayenne peppers, cumin, ground cloves, salt, pepper, sugar, and hot-pepper vinegar. The marinade turns into a basting sauce and a glaze for the roasted chicken, which is split down the back and "flattened" before going into the oven.
As a side dish, I opened a can of red kidney beans and heated them up with some sauteed garlic and onions. I added some of the chicken marinade to the beans too. The other side dish was some squares of leftover cheese grits I had made for breakfast earlier in the week. We had put the grits in the refrigerator and let them set up. Walt cut the squares and pan-fried them until they were turning golden brown. It all worked together pretty well.
And at the market this morning I bought some bread I had seen in a boulangerie but not tried before. The baker calls his loaves baguettes de maïs — corn baguettes. They aren't really cornbread, it turns out, but there is a lot of corn meal in the flour. Not bad at all, and good with the Mexican food.
I'm getting my French eyes back. Yesterday it was gray and rainy, but the landscape was all green and lush. Everything here is old-looking and weathered. There isn't nearly as much asphalt or concrete as there was everywhere we went in the U.S. The streets are much narrower, and the cars are much smaller. Traffic is sparse.
We had to drive over to Selles-sur-Cher, 10 miles east of St-Aignan, because Walt needed to go to the pharmacy. He needed a refill of a prescribed medication. The only pharmacy open nearby was in Selles, because yesterday was le 11 novembre — Armistice Day, a.k.a. Veterans' Day — which is a holiday in France. Only the food stores were open, and those, even the supermarkets, closed at noon. More culture shock. In the U.S., we could have gone to a drive-through Walgreen's at any hour of the day or night. French people just don't get the whole work-all-day commercial thing. They have lives outside work, I guess. Business comes second.