This blogging thing is out of control. I just don't have time to keep up right now. And I keep forgetting to take my camera when I go out on excursions and shopping trips with our friend Marie who is visiting from Normandy. I may not be able to post much next week, because I won't have either the time or an Internet connection while we are on "vacation."
The weather finally turned sunny and warm yesterday. Our afternoon mission, after a morning at home cooking and then a lunch that lasted until 3:00 p.m., was a shopping trip. Marie wanted to go to a town called Château-Renault, just north of Amboise, to buy some shoes in a factory outlet store she knew about. She bought three pairs.
The company that makes shoes in Château-Renault is called Arche. The shoes are apparently very stylish and trendy. Marie says the prices at the factory outlet are much lower than prices for the same shoes in the shops in Rouen or Paris. I'll take her word for it. I looked at men's shoes for a few minutes but realized immediately that I'm neither stylish, trendy, nor rich. So I went out and sat in the car (which was parked in the shade), listened to Les Grosses Têtes on the radio, played with the GPS, read maps, and just bided my time.
When we left Château-Renault, we drove little backroads through villages called Morand and Dame-Marie-les-Bois toward Mesland (a well-known Loire wine village) and Onzain. At one point we drove over the Bordeaux-Paris TGV line just as a high-speed train whizzed by, direction Paris. The we crossed over the A10 autoroute, which was crowded with cars and trucks headed somewhere à fond la caisse — "like bats out of hell." We just toddled along on country lanes, looking and talking.
I thought Dame-Marie-les-Bois was especially pretty, and I'd never driven through the village before. I'll go back with my camera one day. Mesland is pretty too. We knew people who lived there when we first moved to Saint-Aignan, so we went up there frequently. Now those friends have moved to Nice.
One of our "goals" on the way back to Saint-Aignan was to buy some food for today's lunch. There's an Intermarché supermarket in Onzain, and I wanted to stop and shop there because it was after 6:00 p.m. and the supermarkets here don't stay open past about 7:00 or 7:30. We might not get back to Saint-Aignan in time to do our courses, I was thinking.
We bought a pintade for today's main meal. That's a guinea hen, and it's a standard bird here in France. Marie asked the butcher if the pintade came with les abats — that's the "giblets," meaning the liver, heart, and gizzard. The butcher said no, no abats. Marie asked why.
"These days, most people don't know how to cook the giblets," the butcher said (I'm translating). "Customers don't usually want them. The people who process the poultry for sale have figured that out, and also realized that they can sell the livers, gizzards, and hearts separately to people who do like them. That way, they make more money." So that's the story of giblets. When we buy chickens or guinea hens from the vendor at the open-air market, les abats are always there inside the bird, ready to cook and savor.
As we looked around in Intermarché, I happened to see pizzas in the freezer cabinet. I told Marie I wanted to buy one for our supper, because Walt especially likes pizza. Marie stopped me. Isn't there a good pizzeria in Saint-Aignan? she said. Let's go there and get pizza. It'll be better. So that's what we did.
The woman who runs the pizzeria, Véronique, is a good businesswoman. She sort of vaguely recognizes me, because I do go there once in a while and used to have dinner there more often. She always greets me warmly, kissing me French-style on both cheeks and generally making a fuss about seeing me again, as if I were a long-lost friend. Besides, the pizzas her restaurant makes really are delicious.
As we parked the car on the market square, I saw our friends C. and D. sitting at a table outside Chez Constant, one of the town's main café-restaurants. They were basking in the warm late-afternoon sun and enjoying a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. We went over and talked to them for a few minutes. Then we came back home, opened a bottle of Chablis Premier Cru (Chardonnay) wine, and sat out on the terrace until about 10:30 eating our pizzas and talking.
La vie est belle, n'est-ce pas ?