peanut butter crepe
After getting the kids started with their homework, I put a Quiche Lorraine I'd made in the oven, tossed together a salad, and fried potato slices in olive oil. I'm slowly learning simple dishes that involve no herbs and spices, dishes that the kids will eat without yelling "Beurk!" The French version of "Ew!"
Madame and I talked like close girlfriends as I pushed the potatoes around the pan. Even after dinner, we sat over dessert, still talking as the kids left the table so they could make it back to their toys.
This woman has terrified me at times. She is hard headed, independant, blunt and businesslike. She knows glamour and frowns upon anything frumpy or dated. Working under her reign I have sometimes felt small and badly dressed. But she is generous with me, and when we get the chance to speak one on one, the sense of inequality dissapears.
As we spoke the little girl jumped and squirmed on my lap as I wrote out a recipe for the school's cookbook. Each family is to donate a recipe, and since I'm the cook of the house, I got to write out a simple recipe favoured by my mother and I: chicken fried in garlic and steamed in soya sauce. Delicious. I asked Madame to go over it for grammar mistakes before handing it in.
I left the apartment around 7:30 as the mother curled up by the fire reading to her children, and the husband returned from work in a business suit and a smile.
They say you're guilty until proven innocent in France. The French will often dislike you until they've gotten to know you, and you've proved yourself to be good person. I feel I've finally proved myself innocent to the family. And to the woman in the Patisserie who no longer frowns at me.
My past Parisian bitterness is fading and I'm falling for this culture again. I see myself making small changes, dropping North American tendencies and picking up French ones. For one thing I no longer fear sugar, fat, baked goods or butter. These days a meal's not a meal without dessert, and everything I make tends to involve butter, cheese and heavy cream. Bechamel sauce makes everything better. Suddenly everything is so satisfying that there's no need to over eat or feel deprived. Why have seconds when there's dessert waiting?
Tonight I walked back from the grocery store with bag laden with wine, cheese, yoghurt and other delicacies. The sky was dark and Christmas decorations lined the streets. A man selling flowers wished me a "Bon soir," with a sly French grin.
I walked back feeling ready to embrace a culture that has finally accepted me as innocent.
Before I leave I've vowed to try a crepe with peanut butter. I have a gut feeling that the oh-so-French crepe, laced with a very North American peanut butter, will be the best thing I've ever eaten.
Because sometimes, two very different cultures, can make a delicious combination.