Tagine and Pizza

It’s my birthday today. What’s a better way to celebrate it than to spend it in our two favorite countries! For birthday lunch, it has to be in France! and for dinner, of course – Italy!At lunchtime, we went to Trans-en-Provence, 10 minutes by car from home in the Var region. It was another discovery! A typical provençal village! The architecture, the stonehouses, the old fountains.. all overwhelming! What’s more, the food was absolutely delicious!… and ridiculously cheap! It was a chicken tagine…a Moroccan food which, from now on, will be added to my list of favorite dishes! And do you believe me if I tell you that the whole menu… entree + main dish + dessert + wine cost 12 Euros only? Incredible, isn’t it?

For dinner… at 8pm, we drove towards Italy, at the Palanca, one of the many Italian restaurants we adore. We have dreamed of having a good time there tonight because its excellent cuisine is well-known! But, gosh! it was closed! We decided to go to Airole, another small village nearby. Again! closed! What is happening? Just two weeks ago, this village was very lively with tourists. It was here were we attended an organ concert, but tonight, at 9:30pm, it looks empty except for some noise on TV. Ah! I know! It’s football tonight… France vs Italie! Finally, I understood! Each game of football – especially if the two countries are playing, all roads are empty, all restaurants are closed!

But, is it really? Maybe it’s only the case on small villages but in big towns, it’s always lively. Anyway, we were lucky to pass by a pizza restaurant, still open, hence, for my birthday dinner, we had pizza….but don’t laugh… it was the best pizza we have ever eaten!

 

feudebois-1.jpg

Cooked on a wood-burning oven like this one, the pizza bakes for only few minutes!

The hidden face of the Liberators

Today, I would like to share a documentary which I saw on TV several months ago. It’s a story which touched me profoundly. I succeeded in finding the summary (of this docu) from the archives of the newspaper, L’Humanité.

http://www.humanite.fr/journal/2006-…6-03-24-826919

I know that this is a sensitive issue for the Americans but we have to know. For 50 years, this story had been hidden from the world but thanks to Alan Moreau, the truth has come out….
The hidden face of the liberators
(French TV)channel 3

At the time England went to war, Churchill had promised blood and tears. He had forgotten the sperm. But the American army would have been caught short. It did not anticipate the judges nor the executioners to deal with rapes made by its soldiers. There would be 2 040 crimes of rape in England, 3 620 in France and more than 11 000 in Germany. (The worst number because they were the enemies!)

Rape is a weapon of war as well as a collateral damage for this army of liberators not daring to acknowledge occupation. The documentary of Alain Moreau is overpowering. Even if one feels that, taken in a subject too vast, he wanted to treat it, with the risk of leaving questions unanswered. But the light he exposed is not less beneficial (my apologies for this bad translation).

Gardening

Bonne rentrée à tous!
Happy “back-to-work” or “back-to-school” to all!

 

These are greetings we hear all the time.  Everything goes back to normal.  Children going back to school and workers back to work.  Foreign tourists are gradually leaving.  TV personalities are back after a month’s absence.  Star Academy (the French version of American Idol) started yesterday and will go on till they choose the winner before Christmas day.  And of course, my husband is back to his house renovation work and I, to my garden.

Here is an article that I have read somewhere about gardening.

Gardening

 

Most people separate work and play into separate boxes–eight-to-five in the cubicle, weekday evenings watching sitcoms or carting the kids to ballet rehearsal, and weekends of golf or waterskiing.

Not so the gardener. Digging holes and pulling weeds could hardly be called recreation. But gardening doesn’t fit so neatly into the work box either.
Although at day’s end you’re left with sore muscles and more weeds to pull, you also find that your soul has been nourished and your spirit rejuvenated.

Gardening is the most popular hobby, but the term seems pitifully inadequate. What term could be applied to a pursuit that takes so much of you and yet gives so much back? Gardening is an avocation, a passion, a calling. It’s getting out of the car after a long day and a longer commute, feet sore, brain frazzled, body drained, and finding you can’t wait to drag hose, tend tomatoes and transplant zinnias.

In the hierarchy of all things important, gardening is very near the top. It’s important because you pass along the awe to the youngsters in your life.
Together you plant radish and carrot seeds and you get as excited as they do when the seedlings poke out of the ground–not to mention that kids who grow radishes and carrots are more likely to eat them.

Gardening, they say, keeps you young, although I haven’t seen any scientific data on the subject. Staying young is important to me and I’m guessing gardening is less painful than some of the Beverly Hills methods (though perhaps nearly as costly). I’ve known a fair number of elder gardeners and noticed in them a certain nimbleness of step, a bit less stiffness in knee and hip. The elder gardener may pull fewer weeds and find their shrubbery has swallowed large chunks of yard, but they walk through the garden with a grace that only a lifetime among bees and butterflies can give.

Gardening is important for the economy since only a gardener would spend $75 on a single hosta or daylily, and to do so with no regrets. Only a gardener would spend winter evenings reading plant descriptions in garden catalogs, believing every word. It’s important because it teaches you humility when the $75 hosta is devoured by voles (a small vegetarian rodent with expensive tastes), or the prized rose bush decimated by Japanese beetles. It also teaches the joy of nurturing, the delightful responsibility of caring for a seedling that depends on you for light, water, life.

It gives you an excuse to wear silly hats that keep the sun off your neck and hang out with other gardeners who will covet your silly hats.

It’s important because when your gardening days are finally done, some young couple will come along and rediscover your long-neglected garden. As they are cutting back the overgrown shrubbery they will encounter some fragrant treasure that you sowed so many years ago. That treasure will spark in them something that they will pass along to their own children.

In a world where conflict and strife seem to surround us, gardeners create a space where peace and beauty reign. In a time of rampant selfishness, gardeners set the example of selflessness.

For it’s impossible to garden only for yourself. The colors and textures you splash upon the ground are soaked up by all the birds, butterflies and passersby in your neighborhood. But mostly, it’s important to be a good steward of a small patch of earth and to know that you are one among millions who are helping to heal a wounded planet, one garden at a time.

A day in Monaco

Nothing to do on a Saturday, we decided to take a day-trip to Monaco. Monaco is one hour by car from Fontan. Sandwiched between French towns like Menton and Beaulieu-sur-Mer and bordering the Mediterranean sea, it is easily recognizable by its gratte-ciel (skycrapers).

The national road leading to the small but very compact Principality (where the American actress Grace Kelly used to be the princess of Prince Rainier, both now resting-in-peace) is some 200 meter high up the mountains so while driving down towards the exclusive gambling capital of Europe, one is easily struck in awe about the magnificence of the entire panorama…. the Port with its as-tall-as-building private yachts, the Royal Palace standing above a giant rock and the gratte-ciel of apartments and office buildings.

Monaco is perched on rocky mountains so it is amazing to see apartments and houses built in-between giant rocks. The hig-rise modern apartments are simply ‘a cut above the rest’ – as magnificent as 5-star hotels! The 19th century architecture on villas and important buildings is simply mind-blowing!

As soon as we found a parking area, we could already smell the Euros and could see the dollar signs written on everyone’s faces!

We could see wealth all over the place….simply amazing to observe and watch but no way in this world, affordable to anyone but only the well-heeled and the jet-setters!

Here are the figures I’ve written down: (in Euros x 75 = Pesos)

Parking – 2.40 per hour

Entrance to the Jardin Exotique (cactus garden) – 6.90
(we thought it’s a rip-off so we just contented ourselves looking at the sample garden behind the Entrance gate)

Rent of 1-BR apartment – 10,000 a month

To buy a 4-BR, 4-bathroom Villa – 8.8 million

To buy a 3-BR apartment – 4.2 million

To buy a 25 sq.m. studio – 750,000

But we thought, the government is probably encouraging business so cost of renting an office is reasonable at 1,200 a month.

food is not so expensive:
a plate of spaghetti – 10euros
Kebab …..5 euros
Beer……3 euros

Observations:
As Saturdays are the normal days to get married in France, this particular day, in Monaco, must have had the most number of weddings taking place. Every hour, a wedding convoy of several cars, are noisily blowing their horns as they drive past the streets. (It is a tradition that after the wedding ceremony, all cars of the wedding entourage and their guests, would be blowing their horns non-stop, on the way to and from the reception).

What struck us most…. that as late as 4pm, people are still eating in restaurants. In France, at 3pm, they will be closed and will open again at 7pm for dinner.

There are no dog poops around! (France is the dog poop capital of the world!)

Unfortunately, our promenade was cut short when I discovered that my 3-week old 590euros pair of eyeglasses (as i told you in my earlier post) was missing! Cursing myself for being so careless, kinda throwing 590euros down the drain, we slowly traced our way back, hoping that someone, who finds it useless for him, will just leave it where it is, so I, the careless owner, will find it eventually.

Back to where we started, at the parking lot, we asked the guards (whom we saw earlier) if they saw my lunettes (eyeglasses).Miraculously!, they said they found it earlier and had just handed it over to the police for safekeeping.

They quickly called the policewoman who had my lunettes, and I couldn’t believe it when she came driving in her motorbike waving the 590euros worth of thing! 

And you know what she said?

That … in Monaco, lost items including cash are usually returned to their owners because the Monaguesques (citizens of Monaco) are usually honest! 

And my husband’s comment, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE ARE ALREADY ROLLING IN MONEY so those small change or lost things don’t interest them anymore

Concert in Saorge

We went to another concert again tonight. It’s a violin and piano duo by two very talented musicians. It was held in a church in Saorge, a hilltop village just 5 minute drive from Fontan. The church itself, in Baroque style, despite its peeling off old mural on the ceiling, is magnificent! The columns, the ornate designs and everything are a marvelous work of art! C’est dommage that my digital camera is still at the repair shop, otherwise, i would have attached loads of photos here, but I have the website of Saorge for you to browse on!

The performance – music of Mozart, etc, gave me the goose pimples. As always, everytime i listen to a classical concert, I feel like sobbing with joy! it’s like I’m in a different universe! And this universe is free! …. no entrance fee, as half of the concerts organized by the Mairie (town/village hall) are free so everybody – with money or no money – can enjoy one of God’s beautiful gifts… the musical talent of other people.

formerly 'A Pinay in Europe'

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