Aix Y Z : a small tour
2 November 2011 § 2 Comments
2 novembre 2011
For several weeks, I could not figure out the French postal system. The post office a few minutes away from school was open once out of the fifteen times I checked, and even then the machine that weighs letters and produces stamps was broken. I came to the conclusion that the French are simply always eating lunch. They take at least two hours for this sacred midday rite, so all of the non-food-related shops are closed for a few hours in the middle of the day. This post office, however, was often closed at half past three. Then, a giant barricade appeared outside its doors. After that, I received a slip of paper that had “boîte trop petite” (post box too small) scrawled across it and, after one of the women at school called the post office and wound her way through a bit of administration, she informed me that the post had sent my package to another town. This still amuses and amazes me. There are other post offices in Aix! I made my way to the nearby village of Val St André, nonetheless, and fetched my package (which easily could have been left in any of the boxes at the centre, the box was most certainly not too small), and while doing that also discovered that none of the buses run on schedule—or they publish incorrect schedules as a joke. (They also play the moves like Jagger song…) I am pleased to report that normal letters arrive in a dependable manner.
I actually had my first macaroon (a chocolate one) in Russia this summer, and since then I have remembered all of the ones I have had since then and also where I bought them. So far I’ve tried a cassis (blackcurrant) one from a place near school, a chocolate one at another place near school, an orange-flavoured green and orange one from a place near my auberge, a chocolate-and-caramel one at the same place, a fig one from the market, a rose petal one at Ladurée (an extravagant confiserie in Paris), a chocolate-ginger one in Strasbourg, a raspberry one from the same place, and a lemon one in Saverne. I’ll keep you updated on future macaroon consumption.
These are delightful little cakes that are perfect with tea. Yesterday (more like yestermonth, since I wrote this a long time ago), Maggie went to the market in hopes of buying some, but the madeleine man wasn’t there. Quel cauchemar! So I decided to make some, since I found a madeleine pan in the kitchen a few weeks ago. They turned out pretty well, though they didn’t exactly taste like madeleines, perhaps because we have neither scale nor measuring cups, and I used only a third of the recipe because of a butter shortage chez nous, which means I needed 2/9 of a cup of something and other strange proportions.
French people take their dogs everywhere. I saw one woman carry hers through security at the airport. One night, when a group of us ate dessert at a café, a small commotion occurred when a waiter stepped on someone’s small dog and it squealed. (Note: dogs should not be able to squeal, that just means that they are too small and belong to a breed that probably should not exist.) Some French people have gigantic dogs rather reminiscent of bears, though, and they take them for walks in the middle of town. All French dogs have one thing in common, which is the privilege bestowed upon them by their irresponsible owners of using the restroom wherever they please, often in the middle of the sidewalk. This aspect of French life has, without a doubt, a certain je ne sais quoi about it, but it’s more of a je ne sais quoi in the world they think they’re doing.