Yesterday was my trip down the mountain and it came not a day too soon. My shelf in the kitchen was looking grim: one very ripe and mushy banana, a can of tuna fish, a handful of golden grahams. I’d finished my bread that morning, and ate the last yogurt. All in all I planned my meals well, and could have done even better if the promised ‘épicerie (grocery) truck’ that delivers to the village once a week hadn’t been on holiday. For my last dinner before the great shopping trip, I had an egg scramble: a couple eggs mixed in with whatever veggies I had left in the fridge. Sprinkle on some herbs de provence and it was a success.
Glenn, on the other hand, was a different story. He had a similar idea for his last supper, and went to the cabinets and fridge to pull out his remaining food. As everyone else cooked their meals, we’d occasionally look over at Glenn to see what he was doing. Slicing some bread… no problem. Cutting chunks of cheese… fine. Then he pulled out herring. And pâté. And Pringles. And something pink that I still haven’t been able to identify.
“Glenn, what are you doing??” someone asked.
“Making dinner!” he replied.
(The second plate in the photo is a meal of salmon and veggies, which another resident offered to him out of pity).
The trip to the supermarché was an all day outing. It began with a few hours in Carcassonne (the “newer” part of the city, not the fortified town); my first reaction after being dropped off at the train station was: “There’s too much going on! Too much noise and too many people!” It was a sharp contrast to the quiet and solitude of Labastide. Five minutes later, however, Julia, Artis and I were like kids in a candy shop, pointing at the stores and cafés, oohing and ahhing. The other two went off to do some clothes shopping (it’s ‘soldes’ time in France, big sales!), I walked around to explore.
It was my first time in a French town in over 10 years, and it brought back so many memories of being in Toulouse (even though I’ve been in France now for 10 days, village life is a brand new experience). This felt like the France I knew. The pharmacies recognizable by their green crosses, the crédit agricole banks, even a sandwich shop chain I loved to go to in Toulouse.
After walking around for an hour, I met Julia and Artis in the town’s square. A five piece band was playing beautiful music, kids were running around the fountain, cafés set out dozens of umbrella-ed tables. We picked a café called ‘Artichaut’, and lingered through lunch, soaking in the atmosphere of the square and the luxury of being served a meal.
From Carcassonne we went on to the supermarché, where I loaded up my cart and spent more on food in one trip than I ever have in my life (meat! cheese! fruits! veggies! wine! coffee!). Then more stops: an organic store, a boulangerie for a couple of fresh baguettes, a craft store so Julia could buy some canvases, and an impromptu stop for some ‘road cheese’. We even convinced John (our host and driver for the day) to stop for a “five minute” café. I ordered a petit crème: a tiny glass of espresso with steamed milk and a spoonful of foam.
On our way back up the mountain we ran into a storm, and arrived at La Muse to a power outage that lasted four hours (the biggest worry was not that there were no lights or internet service, but that our food could go bad). But the power returned, clouds rolled through the mountains, and we sat down to enjoy dinner on the terrace. Bon appétit, indeed.