The Countryside, Vegetarian Nightmare, Student Ingenuity and an Ominous Start

Ivry la Bataille and La Loupe. Two towns that I’m guessing none of you (or any non-French tourist) has ever been to. But that’s were I spent a couple of nice, relaxing, food-filled days with friends.

One of my friends lives on a huge property in La Loupe and has over 2 hectares of land, which is over 200,000 square feet! On one part, he has an orchard which we figured out alone could hold approximately 200 of my Paris apartments.

Countryside Fire

We played some slightly too aggressive ping pong (you’re allowed to volley right?) and, thanks to some good timing (he’d just done some tree trimming), got to start a nice big fire to burn all the trimmed branches. This is the kind of stuff that impresses city folk like me.

Butcher with the Calf Head

Ate like a king, with fresh meat, meat and more meat. On one of our 2 stops in the same day to the local butcher, we happened to catch him preparing a French delicacy … Tete de Veau, or in English, Calf’s Head. Thankfully it wasn’t for us but as we chatted with him and he found out I was from California, he put on a bit of a meat spectacle for me.

Butcher Carves Up the Calf Head

He carved the calf head up with lots of flare, took out the brain, used a big saw, snapped open its jaw and put everything (including teeth) on the counter in front of me (these photos only upon request). I pretended like I wasn’t going to puke in order to not sully the image of American invincibility (really it was just to see what he’d do next) and eventually, the show came to end. I felt lucky that we were just there to pick up some brochette! Exiting the butcher, we ran into the town mayor and chatted with him for while about the happenings around town. I was really in the countryside.

Gotta love ingenuity. A group of students in Paris have figured out that they could put together a low-cost “insurance” fund that reimburse their fines if they are caught without tickets on the Paris transport system. Evidently the idea comes from, believe it or not, a method invented by Lorenzo de Tonti, a Neapolitan banker who advised King Louis XIV about raising money for his wars. Everyone contributes to a pot and members take turns to draw on the proceeds.

“We all pay €7 a month to a common fund which is used to refund members who are fined,” Frederic, a 22-year-old student, told the newspaper Le Parisien. “At the end of the year there is only about €3 left in the fund.”

Finally, the Cannes Film Festival kicks off next week. I was getting excited for my annual trip to the south but yesterday’s news provided an ominous beginning to the festival: the Rolling Stones, who were rumored to be performing on the red carpet (the thing I was most looking forward to!) canceled, that damn volcano exploded again threatening arrivals from all over the world and the Cannes weather forecast changed to rain for the first week. On my mother’s refrigerator, there is a quote from Benjamin Disraeli that says “What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.” I hope he’s right.

Some photos of the week …

Field of Rapeseed (Colza in French)

BBQing Real Meat

Rainbow over Paris


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: