My first day in France, I arrived at the hotel while Will was at work. Dijon is the headquarters for something in his line of work.. Oh, I'm so informed about these things... So, that is why we were in Dijon. A work colleague, Phillipe, and his wife had us in their home for a meal. It was really a treat! I feel bad that I did not get a picture of his wife and two children.
Anyway, she was nice enough to cook for us! We were in for a special treat.At first the meal was an hors d'oeuvre course with wine and a light snack mix. To tell you the truth, I was starving. The last "meal" I had was about 24 hours prior, and the few protein bars I consumed earlier were long gone. So, I was ready for the main dish right away; but, alas, this is France.
I was officially going to get my first lesson in slowing down. Which is a good thing for a fast-paced American like myself, who regularly indulges in "speed knitting" and other such atrocities.
So, after about 40 minutes, the first course came. It was a delightful salad of tender "Boston greens" (I'm sure they don't call it that, but it would help you get the picture) with marinated goat cheese as a dressing. Fabulous. I know we can buy goat cheese here, but I've never seen it marinated like that.
So, the next course was a fried rabbit with a mushroom sauce and medium-sized cubed potatoes. (I would soon learn that all dishes from this area would come with these potatoes in one form or another)
Each course was separated by about 40 minute increments, so you can imagine how late it is getting since we didn't get there until after 8:00 p.m. But the next course was on its way. Which, of course, was the cheese course.
The cheese course consists of a cheese platter with all forms of strong cheeses--the only one I recognized was brie. And then there is the option of fromage blanc--which looks and acts a whole lot like plain yogurt. Our hostess took a "truckload" of fromage blanc and ate every bite. Our host dipped a spoon into the container and dutifully plopped it in his mouth as if to say, "my mother made me take at least one bite, and I still am obeying that rule". Since he told us his favorite cheese was the one that was 75% fat, we had to try his favorite as well as the sour yogurt thing. All very interesting. How the average French person stays thin is totally beyond me, but our host family was smaller than most Americans.
The next course was not a dessert course (boo hoo), but it was fruit--canned peaches from their own peach tree.
Throughout dinner, we had some interesting conversations. But somewhere during this "simple dinner" as they called it, fear suddenly struck me. As it was, we had Phillipe over for a meal a few years ago when he was doing business in Rockford. All of sudden, I could not imagine WHAT I served-- I think I planned a picnic on the picnic table and we ate our meal in the dark with candles?? Oh well, he lived. I certainly did NOT serve courses. Unless you call "the main food" the first course and "dessert" the second course.
I did get a complete laugh when our hostess (Phillipe's wife.. name escapes me) told us that in 1985 she saw Top Gun with Tom Cruise 10 times in the theater. She's over there drooling over Tom Cruise, and her husband laughs and told us he went to see the flying. I told her that I thought Tom Cruise was still handsome but he's a little odd in real life. (Not that we're on first name basis or anything! LOL)
What else? She loves the rock group "Queen" and Bruce Springsteen. So I tried my best in a raspy voice to sing "Born in the U.S.A."... it's not the same coming from a woman..
Phillipe told us all about wine and really how important it is to them, their culture and their whole area. You know, in America, it's rare to meet people who drink wine moderately.. or do anything moderately for that matter. But I'm starting to understand the whole thing. I didn't have any wine there, but I did eventually end up having a few sips of my husband's later on. It was primarily to get the raw meat or stinky cheeses down... (I'll give a full report on those meals later)
So, the whole Bourgogne area is all about wine making, and it's just as much a part of their culture as growing wheat is in North Dakota or corn in Illinois. It's about family also. People who are friends and family of the vineyards owners are invited to come back and help harvest. Just not anybody is allowed to touch the grapes. It seems like the entire community is involved with the wine making in some way or another--even if it is just holding on to the wine for long periods of time and drinking it here and there.