So I met French Mommy.
Not nearly as terrifying as I anticipated. Although the language was difficult (nothing new there). Do we speak that fast? Luckily I have become quite adept at smiling and nodding. I’m like one of those little toy dogs with the bouncy heads you see in the back windows of cars. Somebody should make a toy out of me and call it ‘Clueless Bouncy Head Sara.’
Anyway, back to French Mommy. I think when we think ‘mother-in-law’ we are geared towards expecting the worst, so although I’m not 100% sure I knew what to expect, it’s definitely not what I got. French Mommy is a Mommy, not a mother-in-law. She gave me kisses as well as my very own pair of brand new pink slippers for the house. Anyone who presents me with footwear the moment I meet them is bound to be my friend.
Inside the house (the cleanliest of cleanest houses ever by the way) we found Grand-mere sitting by the fire. Immediately I could tell I liked her. There was something very mischievous and cheeky about her, a little twinkle in her eye. I like mischievous old people. And I have since found out that she plays video games with the Boyfriend. How cool is that? And because she is so cheeky and cuddly, she is now called, French Nana.
The Boyfriend’s childhood bedroom remains untouched and French Mommy had bought him new socks and underwear and left them on the bed. Spoiled much? All his toys are still out waiting for him to play and two stuffed animals sit at the end of the bed, a tiger, and an elephant that he seemed ridiculously happy to see. Suddenly the 6’3″ rugby playing boyfriend doesn’t seem so tough. But I won’t post the picture that I took of all the toy cars or tell you how the stuffed animals got goodnight kisses because then I would be in trouble.
Saturday morning after my brioche, pan au chocolat, and a bowl (yes, bowl, not mug) of cafe au lait and we headed out into the snowy drizzle to French Nana’s bar. Oh, did I not mention French Nana owns a bar? How can you not love a gameboy playing, bar owning, mischievous Nana? And where has she been all my life?
The bar, which is also the cleanest bar I have ever seen in my life (and I’ve been in a lot of them) is housed in the old Metropole Hotel. Which incidentally is where a past Queen of Egypt used to stay when she visited the region taking in the thermal spas. No kidding! I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. So at 11am as I sipped my glass of rosé (as you do) I was sitting where a Queen of Egypt might very well have sat. I think some of that regalness may have rubbed off. Sara does mean ‘princess’ you know so it was bound to happen.
French Nana closed the bar for us at lunch time and broke out the French cuisine. The Boyfriend clearly needed more spoiling and attention and beef tongue had been lovingly prepared just for him. And a steak for me. The Boyfriend had given advanced warning that the only tongue I want in my mouth is my own (and his). But because I’m trying to experience all the Frenchness that is on offer, I did have a bite. It’s tasty. And I’m sure if it was chopped up in a stew and I didn’t know it was tongue and that some poor cow was walking around without the ability to talk, I could enjoy it.
After the beef tongue, steak, fois gras, cheese, and apple pie (don’t you just love how Nanas the world over make apple pie – they must learn that in Nana school) we headed back home for some more spoiling. The Boyfriend and I curled up on the couch (leg wrestled to fight each other for more room) in front of the fire and watched the snow flurries. French Mommy brought us tea and I tried to read a French Elle magazine (bought just for me!) while the Boyfriend slept. All warm and snuggly and smiling at French Mommy I tried to suss out a way that we could just stay forever. And then I did something that I never do…I napped. I was so comfy I napped! Napping has never come naturally to me, even in kindergarten I stared at the clock while all the other lazy, good for nothing children snoozed around me. So maybe I was super duper chillaxed or maybe French Mommy slipped a ruphie in my tea. Either way, I was liking it and I didn’t want to leave.
When I woke up it was aperitif time (love this country – eat, sleep, drink… repeat). Uncle came over and we all had drinks in front of the fire while French Nana got busy in the kitchen.
Dinner started with escargot. I love me some escargot.
Next up, frog legs. Uh oh.
Now, I have had frog legs before and liked them. When I waited tables in Texas a million years ago, the restaurant served frog legs and I would watch the cook fry them up. But these were different. In Texas, they were individual legs, lightly battered and fried. What was now staring up at me from my plate was lots and lots of pairs of legs, still firmly attached to a little froggy pelvic bone which was attached to some back bones, clearly forming the lower half of a frog.
NO NO NO!
Every time I looked at my plate I heard Kermit singing ‘Rainbow Connection’. But I knew I had to cowboy up and get on with it. I couldn’t be some fussy American girl who doesn’t eat the little Kermits lovingly prepared by French Nana. So while everyone else ate the legs chicken wing style, I’d quickly pull off little bits of meat while taking huge gulps of my wine. And when no one was looking, I’d throw a couple of legs onto the Boyfriend’s plate.
Kermit was followed by more cheese (sensing a theme here?) and then more apple pie.
So here’s the thing about French Mommy’s house, it’s very clean, like eat of the floor clean, but it’s also extremely organized. As a girl who thinks of organizing as my favorite hubby (I’ve written a to-do list everyday for the last twenty years) French Mommy’s house has become my mecca. French Mommy and French Nana can teach Martha Stewart a thing or two about arranging, folding, packing and labeling. And Sunday morning, before we headed back to Provence, French Mommy took us shopping in her house. While Uncle cleaned the Boyfriend’s car (even he is clean – so that leaves me to wonder, what went wrong with the Boyfriend?).
First shopping in the kitchen, I got lovely next to new baking dishes and lots of candy, French Nana’s cookies and more apple pie.
Next on to French Nana’s room, which oh my god I love! It’s like the room that all girls want. It’s pink and blue and antique French. You can picture Marie Antoinette powdering her wig at the vanity.
French Nana opened her wardrobe to reveal rows and rows or perfectly folded and stacked towels. Why does French Nana have so many towels? Don’t know. Don’t care. But I took a set of Christian Dior towels home with me. Once again, big props to French Nana.
I’m not going to go into all the details of the rest of our shopping trip but we went home with a clean car (thanks Uncle) packed full of; towels, baking dishes, cookies, candy, apple pie, 3kg of cheese, a scale (that’s how I know the cheese weighs 3kg), martini glasses, candles, and a brand new coffee maker.
I like French Mommy, French Nana, and Uncle. I liked them so much that I set them up on Skype so they will be able to see the Boyfriend and coo over him.
And I haven’t been able to figure out yet how we can move in so French Mommy can take care of us forever, but we did tell them we’d be back for Christmas.
P.S. by the way, the pic above is of all the little Kermits, pre-frying pan. “Someday I’ll find it, the rainbow connection…” Nope Kermit! All you’ll find is a hot skillet and my belly!