Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

le Macerater has been Mastered

Posted: September 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

DSC_0285                                                                    A Little Winery in St Emillion

It’s nearly time to leave and I’ve finally mastered le Macerater.

The toilet system in France is pretty special to say the least.  At least this time I have not met any ladies waiting to take my euros from me every time I’ve wanted to take a leak.

20140904_000358  The Scenic Urinal

The outside urinals like the one outside the railway station main entrance in Bordeaux are fantastic.  One takes a piddle in the sun, protected from view from the shoulders down to the knee. Sun on your shoulders, relieving the pressure is to be enjoyed.

20140905_070145 The Squatter

Then there are the traditional ‘squat and deliver’ models.  Due to my lack of skill, direction and possibly just talent, I avoid these as I am forced to remove any clothing that might act as a net!  Then there is the issue of ensuring the subsequent flushing actually flushed the said moonfish away. There are no  sticks or implements to aid this.  Then we have these wall hung urinals that are noticeably spherical in shape.  Piddling anywhere other than dead centre results in a whirlpool effect which inevitably results in splashes to oneself.  A target marked at the appropriate spot should be part and parcel of all rounded shaped urinals. Maybe scented or music played when the target is hit…just a thought.

And then there is le Macerater.  Looking like any normal domestic toilet bowl,only with an electronic switch/button on the left hand side, just below the seat. It’s only when you sit down and realize your ‘dangly bits’ are taking some kind of swim, that you realize this bugger is a bit different.  The water level is about that height at rest  Now macerating to me is something I thought meant to marinate or suchlike.  Something I might do to my strawberries in balsamic etc not soaking my bits in toilet water.  So once said deposit is made, one pushes the button and all hell breaks out.  This pump that I think was ripped from an aircraft loo, sucks it all away and minces it up before sending it to the great sewage system that France is famous for.  Whilst a little wash might be nice if the temp was ok (and it is), you would have to think twice about pushing THAT button whist still seated or you might be able to test the depth as well as the temp on your next assignment.

Went back to a village market Saturday morning in Salat.  This is the home of the foie gras and truffle sellers.  Some additional purchases had to be made and I’m going to take a punt that I will get them through customs when I return.  All the stall holders are forcing their wares on you as you try to pass and I feel sorry for them so stop and chat ….and of course agree to try their saucisson or their pate, confit, foie gras and even the pretty ladies pushing their home made walnut tarts and gateaux. We had to have a stop in the middle for a café.  That is how hard I’m working.

I was put in charge (by myself I might add) to organize a restaurant booking for Friday night.  I rang three places before a successful booking was made.  There I was on my phone bonjouring and bonsoiring madame and trying with my best dozen word vocab to book it.  I was able to tell them my name, the day, the time and that we wanted dinner as opposed to lunch!  I was very proud of myself.  Thank god they understood my ramblings enough to come back to me in broken English to confirm.  I’m bloody bilingual alright.

Tonight is the harvest festival.  There will be fireworks to close but before this there is the town petanque competion and then the highlight for us….moules et frites.  (mussels and chips!). This is all to celebrate the harvest of the walnut, the pumpkin, the onion and the melon.  Not sure where the bloody mussels fit in but who am I to quibble?

We leave France sadly on Monday to travel back to London.  On Thursday, I start my journey home.  In the meantime I will continue to avoid le Macerater, aim straight at the urinals and enjoy sun on my shoulders outside the railway station in Bordeaux.

France 14

 

DSC_0236     DSC_0237

My 2 new Girlfirends from the Sarlat Market.  The foie gras lady and the saucisson Lady

I’ve made an observation or two.

 

If the bible had been written by a Frenchman, there would have been many recipes included.  Probably been a commandment as well.  You can’t live in France if you are not interested in food.  The French will not respect you if you deny yourself the pleasure of eating good food.  They take it more seriously than sex. If you are unable to groan orgasmically at the mention of duck gizzards, pigs entrails and suchlike, you are seen more akin to an impotent monk.  Vegetarians are seen in the same light as a guest at a spa pool orgy that stays dry and fully clothed, with their back to all the action.

 

Food is handled differently here too. Cheeses are sold and eaten when the rinds are mouldy, meat and eggs are eaten half cooked or raw and early morning deliveries to restaurants are often left outside on the pavement where poodles also make deliveries.  In short, the French believe that bacteria have the right to live and breed, preferably in people’s stomachs.

 

It is common to see waiters or cooks carrying an armful of unwrapped baguettes through the streets of towns and cities.  When the loaves get to the restaurants, they are cut up into slices by the waiters, who also handle money and cigarettes.  The baskets of bread are served at one table, fondled by various diners, and leftovers then taken back to the breadboard and topped up for the next lot of diners.  So the delightful bit of bread with which you soak up the last drops of garlic sauce or vinaigrette from your plate may have been squeezed by the boulangerie, rubbed under a staff member’s armpit, fingered and fondled by a previous diner before you pop it in your mouth and pronounce it to be the best bloody bread in France…… but it works wonderfully.

 

I love some of the rituals around dining especially when out in public.  At the table, diners must be seated man-woman-man etc even if some of the guests are gay.  Woman order first.  At the table there should always be glasses for wine and water. The water glasses should be larger than the wine glasses. This seems a token gesture towards sobriety rather than anything else.

 

Good brioche is to die for.  Be it a lightly toasted slice or bun-like with chocolate chunks, it should be always taken with a coffee or if you must, tea.  And then there is the saucisson.  Like a knarly salami that is smaller and slightly soft to the touch and not so dried as a conventional ‘Verkerks’ special.  They are also covered all over in a white mould like a damp shoe left in the garage all winter.  My favourite at the moment has walnuts through it and is surprisingly lovely.

 

When old Jean-Claude or whatever he was called discovered foie gras, it must have been like Dom Perignon when he discovered champagne.  A mistake that still needed to be consummed to prevent waste regardless of consequence.  Both turned out to be monumental successes.  This new pate JC invented must have sounded odd to his mates.  I can imagine him explaining it, ‘Oh you don’t take the minced up offcuts like you do with pate Pierre.  You take a good goose or duck, stick a funnel down its throat and pour as much dried corn as you can three times a day until the bugger is so fat it can’t walk hardly.  Then you rip out its now massive liver and spread a slice on your toast.  Voila!  It will catch on wait and see.’  Whatever, the two are firm favourites of mine now.

 

Until today we hadn’t found a bad wine either and we have been averaging at least a couple a day for research purpose of course.  Today’s white was like I used to buy along Lincoln rd in the 80’s….. a bit thick and a little too sweet (like some of my girlfriends from that era actually).  We struggled on and finished it though then washed the memories away with a couple of pastis and a wonderful Bordeaux.

 

We have developed a habit we are trying to break.  Drawn as we are to any boulangerie (bakery) we can’t resist buying the good old French stick.  We are not keeping up with the consuming so next time we ‘Bonjour madame’ to the next lovely lady in the boulangerie, we will have to resist the baguette and just go for the tarts, the pain au chocolat or the croissant.

 

One of our local restaurants is run by Sylvie and Denis.  Sylvie has no English in her vocab so we get on well.  She reminds us of Edith from Hello hello.  Denis (whom has even less English) and I had a conversation yesterday purely with our hands and facial expressions.  It was two profoundly deaf people with poor signing skills.  I got what I wanted, we shook hands and promised to return as his cooking is wonderful.  I think I might know more French than they know English ….combined.

 

For dinner tonight we are staying in.  We have pain originale, duck saucisson, pork and walnut saucisson, more cheese than you can shake a stick at, duck breast, poulet (that’s French), and a tomato.  Finished off with leftover walnut gateaux wand coffee ice cream. That should get us through until we can get to the super marche tomorrow.  That will be after church in St Robert and the obligatory trip to the boulangerie and the café (because we can) for some treats and more baguette.

 

Au revoir Kerry

 

France 14

I’m in full Bonjour mode

Posted: September 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

France 14 (13)

Giverny …Monet’s Home and Studio

I am in full ‘Bonjour’ mode.

 

I expect all that read this adopt and outrageous French accent whilst reading.  The world needs more French accents.

Unlike the poms in London, ‘Bonjour’ attracts attention and a smile (even from the pretty ones) and that makes an old Kiwi happy.  Some days I’m bonjoured out but I am a stayer so keep bonjouring until way after dark when I start with my bon soiring.  I can also order brioche and coffee, a beer and now duck gizzards with aplomb (another gallic word) so life is magnifique pour un moi.

 

My time in Paris has been great, ticking off that much on my bucket list, I’m going to think about drawing up another.  First day upon alighting from the Eurostar was spent walking the long way to our hotel with our luggage so the three of us resembled some team of sherpa looking for Everest!.  It turns out that had we stayed on the train for another 3 stops, we could have surfaced about 200 meters from the hotel.  Nice stroll which included several accidental ‘side excursions’ though.

 

Day 2 was a train ride to a town in the NE called Vernon where we hired velo’s (push bikes) and cycled the 5 kms to Giverny to pay homage (see how much French I’ve been immersed in?) to Claude Monet whom I place up there with Buck Shelford and Jesus.  Wandering through his house and garden where he painted was a thrill for me. (sounds a bit gay eh?).  The return was completed with an obligatory beer or two at a local café in Vernon before catching the train back to Paris.

 

Day 3 was a very somber affair travelling to the Somme where far too many Kiwis and Aussies lost their lives in World War 1.  We visited many cemeteries and memorials to the soldiers of the Commonwealth and saw where the Red Baron apparently crashed.  To make it even more eerie, they put on a true Waikato fog for the whole morning.  We got to take dad’s medals on a pilgrimage. In a town called Pozieres, the Yanks were in town playing war all dressed up and loud where they re-inacted a battle from WWII where they liberated the town. For a bunch of grown up kids, it was very good show. 

 

Day 4 was a trip to the Champagne region.  God bless Dom Perignon.  Tours through Mumm’s and Moet & Chandon’s caves was brilliant.  Tastings unlike in NZ, consisted of just a glass each.  Tight arses was the consensus from the Anzac contingent at the back of the bus which included 3 ladies (and I use the term lightly) from Aussie.  Touring through the vineyards seeing the growers preparing for vintage made the whole thing seem quite real.  I touched a whole stack of Dom’s finest and at 345 Euros a bottle, I have the Midas touch now.

 

Each evening saw us searching out the ideal Brassiere/Bistrot/Café.  So long as they served wine and French food, I was happy.  I ticked a few epicurean boxes; foie gras (again), brioche (again and again), escargot (once more), duck gizzards, more brioche, croissant (more than once), pain au chocolat, linguine, salad, jambon locale, more brioche, steak tartare, wine, beer and so on.  I have also added approx. 5 kgs to my midriff however.  I shall cut back on the salad and water and we should be good.

 

 Life is great pour moi.  I am writing this whilst on the Train Grand Vitesse (TGV) which roughly translates to The fastest fucking train I’ve been on.  We are heading to Bordeaux and then to the land of Foie Gras and Truffle as well as the odd bottle of good red.  We are travelling at approx. 300kmh although it is so smooth, you wouldn’t know it.  The French are so pretty and well dressed. But they smoke like the proverbial chimneys.  As a nod to the sartorial elegance displayed,  I have taken to wearing my best jandals and t shirts.  It is no problem for me to fit in.  I could spend all day in the bistros and Cafes, watching the Parisians go by, Bonjouring and Bonsoiring to them all as I eat my brioche, sip my coffee, spread my foie gras and drinking my vin.  But I would cut back on the water and salad as mentioned earlier.

 

 

Au revoir, Kerry

France 14

 

 

I feel sick in the stomach every day.

I’m actually not sick.  I don’t need to go to a doctor.  I don’t need any medical help except for some sleeping pills maybe, but I’d prefer not to take anything like that.  It aches day and night but especially when I am on my own.  I am on my own more often than I’d like.

Getting over a relationship is apparently a very stressful event in one’s life.  I should know because nearly 13 years ago I worked through with my now ex wife.  It rips your heart out.  It rips it out, squeezes the last drop of life out of it and leaves you an emotional and physical wreck.  So to have to go over it all again is almost too much bear.

I am frightened, I am stressed. I am far from over my love.  There is nothing to hope for, there is nothing left.

Just when I think I am over another step in my self administered rehabilitation, I get news that my love had been playing me for a fool for the last half of our time together.  I am now worse off than I was when we parted so amicably because she was no longer a positive player in our relationship.  I now know I was always the third person in our couple, the public significant other when all along I was not her first choice.  I am now just plain embarrassed.  A fool, her muse, an idiot.

She told me she had had one of the best years of her life.  That had made me feel better about instigating our stop ‘n think session that lead to her discussing her displeasure of me as a long term partner with all her friends, workmates, clients and probably number 1 man before talking with me.  Little did I know, I had been replaced back in September and it was now January.  I was prepared to be told she wasn’t as happy as she’d been, I was somewhat resigned due to my frustration with her part of the relationship.  But fuck me.  I wasn’t ready to be replaced with a fully ‘moved in’ and ‘loved up’ partner within a fortnight.

I wished her all the best; I wanted nothing but the best for her.  Just because I no longer fitted the bill, was something I have learnt to accept over the years.  I am a hopeless romantic that believes in ever after.  I just can’t see that I am somewhat unique in this thinking.  I was ‘recovering’ well but shut off from her friends and family and that I had grown to love being with and believed that they felt similarly about me.  Gone too.  I was missing them more than her….or so I thought.

Trying to get on with my life but conscious not to just replace her, all I could think of were the lyrics to the Adele song;

Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you.

I wish nothing but the best for you too.

Don’t forget me, I beg, I remember you said:-

“Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead”, yay.

 

Nothing compares, no worries or cares.

Regret’s and mistakes they’re memories made.

Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

 

Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you.

I wish nothing but the best for you too.

Don’t forget me, I beg, I remembered you said:-

“Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead”

 

 

So my stomach aches only a little until I think of her youngest children whom I had grown to adore.  Teaching the boy about the art of shaving and polishing a car and the young lady about driving slightly drunk adults around town and sneaking fast food before mum found out. Her teaching me about being a young teen and all the neat stuff it brings.  Gone.  Looking after the chooks.  Mrs Crooked Beak and her 4 girlfriends became a big part of me and my time. Chasing cattle and sheep, dealing to thistles in the paddock or coaxing another few weeks out of the broken gates.  Gone and not coming back.  The below average sex, the shit tip they lived in, the mess, the muddle, the dirt.  No longer my problem.  Also gone.  They were easing from my mind to a degree but enough to ease my stomach.

But the knife to the heart was finding out about the lies and the cheating.  She denies it all.  She was more concerned about telling me she had moved in her new man.  Why would I give a shit … until I heard the lies and cheating that went on when were together.  It cut like a knife.

I am now hurting again.

I am embarrassed, shamed and alone. I am the unhappiest I’ve been in 13 years and yet 2 months ago, the happiest

in my life.

Love hurts.  Love hurts my stomach, my heart and the rest of my being.

Maybe I do need a doctor after all.

Image

I’ve never really enjoyed the Russian roulette anticipation or Lotto loss like despair when my meal arrives to my table at a restaurant.

Once I’ve negotiated the surly waiter or the spartan decor, finally attracted the attention of anyone remotely interested in my dry throat and rumbling tummy, I enjoy scanning a menu.  The anticipation of some culinary delight to tickle my tastebuds, the delightful tipple of wine to surprise me are just some of the attractions that eating out bring.

Rarely do I go out to eat purely because I am in need of eating other than if it is officially dinner time.  I still get a buzz from ‘going out’ to eat and especially so if I am in the company of those I love or appreciate and such is the joy, neither of these groups actually needs to have tits.  However, breasts can heighten the excitement especially if it is a date kind of dinner.  I appreciate and regularly congratulate (or at least recognise) great service to the waiter and/or chef that has pleased me so.  Most work hard to please.  And I’m pleased they do.

However, the majority of those that work in this industry lack any form of understanding how to satisfy a paying customer that has chosen to eat at their establishment but can easily choose to not return also.  I have worked hard at maintaining a cool, calm exterior when I’ve been subjected to some inattentive waiter or substandard meal.  I know I am usually not afraid to stand out in a crowd, but I have not found this to be so when applying this to service imperfections.  Choosing not to return is my normal way of protest.

The ability to not be overly demonstrative when that is exactly what is required is a skill that will, if effectively applied, help maintain your friendships and relationships with those at your table apparently content with their repast.  Your friends will thus believe you possess stress handling with the Zen façade of some toga wearing Buddhist monk.

Of late, this stress repression has actually caused me stress and I can feel the bubble is about to burst.  One night recently in Echuca, dinning on my own, I was forgotten about for more than 15 minutes before my glass of wine arrived.  You can read the menu only 50 or 60 times before you are ready to alter the entertainment and start the ordering process when you dine alone.  Nobody to talk to, eavesdropping on neighbouring tables which seem to have double the level of service you are receiving or just staring into the dark abyss that is outside the window is hard work and attention attracting to all except the pompous prick with the order pad.  To make it worse, you always lose the menu when you have ordered as if you are going to change your mind part way through the cooking process.  Now you have nothing to read except the minds of those around you.  So I was by this time, 20 minutes into my dining experience waiting and waiting.  I was still waiting a further 25 minutes later when I chose to leave.  I really hoped my very rare steak was being cooked but alas, had only just made it out of the fridge.  I told the uninterested waiter I was not going to wait.  Nonplussed was too animated a response from the Maitre D.

Two weeks later the story was a complete turnaround.  So much so, that I complimented the same chap on great service and a great meal.  Nonplussed still, he acknowledged my comment at least.

Another restaurant, another time and another place I was presented with a most inadequate meal to say the least.  The meal arrived on a most adequate plate.  A man sized, main meal sized plate.  Maybe even a small platter sized plate?  If the plate had legs, it could have made a small bedside table.  Absolutely no problems with the plate.  White, clean and of a nice disposition and design.  The meal that I had been salivating over for the last 20 minutes since ordering, arrived beautifully ‘plated up’ in the bowl shaped depression in the middle of the plate, was far from adequate.  My first reaction was to remind the waitress that I had ordered the Pork Belly as a main meal not as an entrée.

This seemed to excite my new enemy.  Apparently, what I was delivered was in fact the correct size and that there was nothing in the form of additional vegetables to supplement this meagre offering on their way.  A joke I thought, surely.  But that also was not on the menu.  I was not sure what shocked me more: the dismissive attitude or the fact that my meal was just a couple of mouthfuls full stop.

I appreciate there is usually a relationship that says the more expensive the eatery, the bigger the plate and smaller the meal is. I also understand the size and tastiness can be opposite too.  What a meal lacks in magnitude, it makes up for it in succulence.  Often succulence however, can result in, I’m still fucking hungry.  But as just a bog standard eatery on the main street, this disproportional law shouldn’t have applied.

Then last week, on one of those, I’ll pay, you get the ‘Hairy Chequebook’ out when we get back to your place dates, I frequented a Japanese establishment in the hope of tickling my Asian tastebuds and getting tickled elsewhere later on.  It took just a minute to be seated.  It then took 15 minutes and some pestering to get the wrong wine delivered and another few to get it replaced.  The wine was nearly finished before we were able to order but just another 15 minutes before it arrived.  I had ordered Japanese crumbed pork and imagined some Japanese styled vegetables drenched in some spicy sauces and rice or noodles.  Yum Yum.  When our dishes arrived, I had a pork schnitzel sliced into 10mm strips.  A little spoonful of dry coleslaw sat on the side and some flavoured Watties tomato sauce in a dinky dish sat at the other end.  Underwhelmed and hardly Japanese.

No wonder so many people dine at MacDonald’s, Hungry Jacks or KFC.  Once you get over the fact that the photo of your burger or chook ain’t what you are going to get ever, you can afford to buy more to satiate your grumbler and still not go broke.

And the service is always going to be from some pimply faced kid that is actually having fun.

Hello world!

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!