Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Funny Taste of Garlic

This is not meAs you may remember, it snowed at the beginning of the week - Sunday night, to be precise. Well, it's still there in my back garden. That's a whole (rapid count on fingers) 5 days later. Du jamais vu!

With a nod at Keith's remarks on my sad lack of talk about mushrooms, I'm wondering whether such snow cover will succeed in producing the odd sprout of fungi where sun, frost and rain have failed. I like the idea because as least I wouldn't get lost in my search. I remember reading somewhere that mushroom hunters often get lost in the depth of the forest and some don't appear for days. I suppose this isn't a problem if they're good at what they do; at least they wouldn't starve. I imagine they never go hunting without a frying pan, gas stove, stock of butter, garlic and box of matches. Just in case. If they're not good at what they do, on the other hand, and they get lost, it might turn out to be ironic justice for the mushrooms where the mushroom hunter becomes food for mushrooms instead of hunting mushrooms for food...

The snow is not the place to go prancing about in lingerie either (Keith). Unless you're a hardened northern type or from Canada where they have that joke about having barbecues at -30°C (or something). We're always having it rammed down our throats how the French spend billions on lingerie. I'm not sure your average mum standing outside the local school, fag in mouth, sloppy baggy jeans, cheapo pully and trainers will be sporting a model of lace and delicate braiding beneath however. Of course, I could be wrong.

I remember reading an article by that Helena somebody-somebody who writes (or wrote) irritating articles for the Daily Mail about how, once she'd discovered the joys of wearing matching lingerie never went back. Bully for you, thought I. Me, I like options. I have lingerie I can wear, matching or not, as the mood or the contents of the dirty linen basket take me. I do need to top up, actually, but, being the perfect mother (*cough*), I put buying sports trousers for my youngest before any frivolous but expensive purchase of miniscule bits of sexy lace and silk. Maybe Helena whatsit-whatsit didn't have such choices to make. She lived in the back of beyond not far from a bog in the arrière pays behind Pezenas (or somewhere like that) which makes it unlikely she had children to send to school.

She probably drove a 2CV too, to complete her authentic life in France.

Keith, I dedicate this post to you. ;)


  1. In my opinion, this post should be printed out, framed and hung on the wall of every English speaker living in France!

    The perfect "Life in France" blog post!

    11/10 to you Sarah!

  2. Yup, I'm with Keith on this.

    I remember the columnist of whom you speak...she messed off to Dubai, I think, after turning her place into some sort of spa

  3. Keith & Fly - thanks very much! Keith, I expect you noted the bitchiness too...

    Fly - goodness knows how she found the time. I think her husband is some high-flying type and it was cos of him that they went to Dubai.

    I wrote a couple of bitchy articles about her a while back and it was so funny because she met a friend of mine and mentioned this 'woman who seems to have it in for me' referring to me. HAHA, how I laffed.

  4. One of the most frequent key phrases that point people to my blog is 'magic mushrooms'. Goodness knows why, I know nothing about them. Honest...

    As for lingerie, most of mine is so full of holes it could be mistaken for lace. My girls, however, insist of me buying them tiny, lacy stringy things that don't seem to serve any purpose at all. They wouldn't be seen dead in proper pants, of course.

  5. Yeh yeh we believe you, Gigi, thousands wouldn't... ;)

  6. Hi Sara, well we live in major cepe and glorious mushroom country, come October the locals are all in the local woods, with their special knives and baskets hunting in their closely guarded secret locations for fungal delights. We have been out looking too, not one find, in seven years.

    As for Lingerie, I love it, every small French town seems to have at least three very pricey lingerie shops, I like my lingerie to match, if possible, but must say I prefer to stock up in Blighty at good old M&S to avoid the eye wateringly expensive French prices.

    Ooh, catty remarks about Helena thing-thingy, I used to read her column in the Sunday Times, I must admit, she was a bit annoying.

  7. Hello Dash, she was even worse in the Daily Mail. She plugged into all the female neuroses of how wonderful French women are compared to dowdy frumpy old Brits. She drove me insane. I wrote a letter to the Mail once, surprisingly, they didn't print it...

    As I had such fun writing it, I'll reprint it here:
    Dear Sir,

    I have just received the articles written by Ms Frith Powell on French women as my mother sends a bunch of articles to me every so often.

    I also live in France, just north of Montpellier and I am writing to express my annoyance at the continuing myth of perfect French women that Ms Frith Powell propagates in her articles. Anyone who has been to France for more than 5minutes knows that she is talking a load of twaddle.

    Her articles talk about a tiny minority of French women who probably all live in the 16th arrondissement of Paris or equivalent in the provinces. Ms Frith Powell, who lives in a backwater in the wilds of upper Languedoc probably has one in a catchment area of 50miles and she owns a second home and visits it 3 times a year.

    It's this gross generalisation that really gets me riled. All French women do this, all French women do that. NO THEY DON'T. If Ms Frith Powell wants to make British women feel even more insecure and unattractive than they already are, she's doing a great job.

    I work with normal French women who don't wear make-up to work and go around in ill-fitting jeans and crappy old pullies. No, they don't look elegant or even attractive. They just look like ordinary women who can't be bothered to make an effort. Like so many others!

    Stand outside your average school gates, like I do every day. What do I see? That skinny, chain-smoking stick of an anally-retentive, bad-tempered old bat of a French cow? No, I see ordinary women, with perhaps a little make-up but normal clothes on normally-sized French female bodies. The rich bitches are the nearest ones who fall into Ms Frith Powell's description.

    I also take exception to the assumption that French people are bonking everyone else's wives and husbands. Just where does this come from? Again, that rarified little black hole of infidelity and spite that goes on in one spot in Paris. Outside Paris, people have as much time and energy to pursue such sport as in the UK. Which means they go to work, collect the kids, make dinner (from frozen ready dinners, not the fresh food bought that morning at the market, which in any case is only there twice a week) and collapse in front of the tele. Sound familar? Of course it does, it's what 90% of British families do too.

    What Ms Frith Powell could be doing is telling us that one of the reasons that many French women look good in clothes is that 1) they have smaller frames, 2) they stand up straight with their shoulders back, and don't slouch like most British women do as though they are apologising for their very place on this earth, 3) they are concerned about their weight so eat accordingly, but even this is losing ground if you consider the rise in obesity and overweight bodies walking around, 4) they often take exercise even if it's only walking. As I said, the days of the freshly-prepared exquisite little bon plat as a daily occurrence are gone. You only have to look in the frozen food sections of the supermarkets, and at the ready-meals available. There are way more than when I first came to France in 1989.

    French women do breastfeed, otherwise the lactarium in Montpellier would be empty. You can hardly say on the one hand that French women care for the well-being of their offspring, and on the other that they don't breastfeed because they don't want to spoil their tits or their husbands might go off with the bitch next door or the au pair.

    Your paper should be trying to improve the nation's women, not gunning down their self-confidence even more. You should put HFP out to grass in her backwater pasture, or get her to change the perspective of her articles.


  8. Oh Sara, what a corker of a letter, no wonder you had fun writing it, so true though. It reminds me of the time an Australian friend of mine came to live in Paris, she thought the streets of Paris would be full of the HFP stereotypical French woman and was surprised when she saw hardly any.
    Tee hee, I am going to be chuckling over this letter all afternoon.

  9. Sarah - I found you through Keith's blog and am enjoying having a good giggle. You wouldn't believe where I live is called La Rivière would you? Well - just to let you know that I tried the matching lingerie thing, and no matter how cheap I get it (Vente Privée online is a godsend for mothers who work from home in the country), whether it's matching or not is still dictated by the humour of my dirty laundry you. This brings serious questions to light about HOW French women manage to keep theirs matching ...

    Well - I have had similar experiences of the whole French thingy as you - but I started my blog to showcase my art. As things go, I spend more time trying to write blog posts than paint so it's pretty dismal on all accounts now ;-)
    Ciao from La Rivière!

  10. God Sarah, I love that letter too!! Coming from Aussie, I never realised ham and mashed potato could be considered a meal until I moved to France!! Having said that - I guess I lived in Boulogne which is close enough for me to tell you that all of the French women there were always impeccably dressed (but mostly on a shoestring budget which they hid so well).
    Being an avid cyclist/runner myself, I've always had a hard job finding any woman who does more than 1hr sport per week - but yes, they do walk alot.
    And yes GODDAMMIT - they certainly do have smaller frames and small breasts (having said that - I was the only one of all my friends who breastfed for more than 3 months. Not one maternity ward encouraged or helped them, and they were stay at home mums so didn't have to stop to go back to work.) That being said - seeing as I had my 3 here, I have no idea what's going on elsewhere in terms of breast feeding...
    You've inspired me to write more about life in France. I've been trying to demystify these bloody myths myself! Thanks for the push!!

  11. Hi Ange, glad you're enjoying my blog!

    I don't understand how it says you are near Toulouse on your blog and yet you're supposed to be in Provence. *confused*

    I was thinking about sport only today and will be blogging about that soon. Again...

    I'm glad you have laundry issues too. How can they not, or is the section that is so robotic about being perfect spending a huge amount of time on things that I'd consider totally trivial and pointless?

    I was a tomboy when young. I think it explains a lot.


Comments are bienvenue.