We had a big family fun day today! Everyone began preparing for company by nine in the morning-we were expecting Laurent’s sister Nathalie, her husband Philippe, and their son Maxime for lunch. We cleaned and cooked all morning, and I’d definitely worked up an appetite by one when the guests arrived. We wasted no time pouring the drinks and talking while Martine put the finishing touches on the first plates!
The food was absolutely superb. Aperitifs began with champagne, dried fruit, boudain (a type of sausage) and crackers. The entrée (which is the appetizer in France) was smoked fish with some sort of cream cheese filling with white wine. We bought it already prepared at the grocery store, so I have no idea how it was made, but I would love to find out how one stuffs cream cheese into a whole fish without destroying it. I did, however, learn the intimate details of stuffing a giant duck with orange slices and curry powder, because that was our main dish. If I were Martine, I would never have trusted the American girl who clearly can’t cook with the main part of the meal, but she did, and I managed not to ruin it! After a plate of fried potatoes that weren’t half as good as my dad’s (but still made me happy), it was time to bring out the cheese and red wine. Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Bleu, Morbier-you name it, we ate it. France is home to over three hundred different types of cheese; I wonder how many I can try in six months. I should keep a list! Laurent’s homemade blackberry tarte and vanilla ice cream made a delicious first dessert, and the spice cake that Nathalie brought paired beautifully with our espresso.
Even better than the food, I got the chance to listen to hours of conversation between the two families. Each course was drawn out over at least thirty minutes, with plenty of discussion about travel, the children, politics, and sports. Nathalie was very nice to ask about my studies and the cultural differences I’ve experiences so far, while Philippe wanted to hear all about the NBA. Alas, I had to inform him that not all Americans are avid basketball fans and I have no idea if there’s a pro basketball team in my home state. Ditto for soccer, tennis, and pretty much everything else except baseball and college football. Sorry, Philippe. I tried my best to keep up with the conversation, and I understood most of it. Jokes and puns are still incredibly difficult to catch, but the rest is getting easier every day!
Once everyone had digested enough to move, Maxime and Simon started to begging to go to “Jeu Lasers”, which I can only assume is one of those Laser Tag places where people have birthday parties and play arcade games. The adults compromised by suggesting bowling, which I happily went along with. I expected the bowling alley to be much different from our American lanes, but it was very similar. It turns out that the cosmic theme is universally relevant. (get it???) So as not to bring my family dishonor, I won’t explicitly reveal my bowling score, but let’s just say that I could have probably benefitted from those kiddie bumpers. Oh well, we had a great time.
After the two families parted ways at the bowling alley, everyone settled down for some quiet time. Mathieu and I worked on English adverbs for a while, and then I practiced French by reading more of my new library book. Man, reading and writing is so much easier than speaking. We had a quick salad dinner (no one was the slightest bit hungry) and then it was off to bed. Listening to so much conversation today definitely tired me out, but I’m very proud to say that I understood most of it and I thought in “French”, rather than translating every word into English. Progress!