When we have a day of fine weather, I should acknowledge it. The sun came out first thing yesterday morning and by mid-afternoon the temperature outside had reached 10ºC (50ºF). It felt right balmy.
For the first time in weeks, I was able to go out for a walk with the dog without needing to put on a hat and gloves. That meant I could take some pictures, and there was enough light for that activity too. You'll see a few of the photos just below, in this post.
In the evening, a long-running Sunday program called Vivement Dimanche, hosted by Michel Drucker on France 2 television, featured the British actor Hugh Grant as a guest. And guess what — Hugh Grant speaks French. He seemed to have no trouble understanding what the half-dozen French people on the show were talking about, and he answered questions in French without too much hesitation.
It always surprises me when people like that turn out to speak French well. Jody Foster does. And Sigourney Weaver. Kirk Douglas used to appear on French TV in French too. Jane Fonda, of course — she had a life in France and was married to the director Roger Vadim. Candace Bergen too — she was married to Louis Malle. I'm sure there are other French-speaking anglophone actors, but not many.
And now for something completely different: I just bought an airline ticket for a trip to the U.S. this spring. I dread the actual trip — the traveling part — which is very long but seems even longer with all the delays and slow-downs caused by security checks. And it's nerve-wracking these days even to think about getting on a transatlantic flight.
My trip is especially long. Door-to-door it will take about 25 hours. I'll leave Saint-Aignan at 5:00 a.m. one morning to take the train to Paris and the RER out to CDG airport. Three planes later — two connections in two big airports — I'll arrive at my destination in North Carolina at midnight, if all goes well. Midnight on the U.S. East Coast is 6:00 a.m. the next morning in France. That's 25 hours in all.
But I'm looking forward to being there when I finally get there. It will be relaxing and fun — a complete dépaysement, or change of pace. I don't know if you realize it, but it's a different world over there. :^) My last trip was already a year ago. I'll come back re-energized and ready to start work in the vegetable garden. I'll be happy to be back in France.
More about endives: I made a salad yesterday with one Belgian endive, one apple, some toasted walnuts, and some cheese, in a vinaigrette dressing. The apple complemented the endive nicely, and the walnuts gave good taste and texture. The cheese filled it out. I had a blue cheese, a Fourme d'Ambert from the Auvergne, in my salad, and in his Walt put a non-blue cow's milk cheese, a Bethmale from the Pyrenees region.
As for chicory, of which escarole, curly endive, Belgian endive, and radicchio are examples, there are many names for all the different plants in different countries. Belgian endive and radicchio are the plants whose roots are dried and ground to make the chicory that is used as an additive in, or substitute for, coffee in Louisiana, France, and elsewhere. But Belgian endive itself is called "chicory" in the United Kingdom.
In the U.S., I remember when the salads we call curly endive and escarole used to be called "chicory" but I'm not sure if that name is used nowadays. These two chicories are a different species from Belgian endive and radicchio. In France, salads of scarole or frisée are often featured on restaurant and café menus and are always available in the markets and supermarkets. As salads, like Belgian endive they are good in vinaigrette with beets, garlic, walnuts, poached or hard-boiled eggs, or smoked bacon lardons.