Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to Buy a Loaf of Bread

Young Ellie (with good friend Sally) lives around the corner from us. She's been living in Leran since last Christmas, and moved here from England. I asked her the other day how much French she knew before arriving, and how her French was now. She said she could say "bon jour" and ask for a loaf of bread and now she was doing much better. I told her I thought her rather gutsy to be plunked down into the French school system and just "go for it". She said she gets lots of help from friends Strathern and Cameron, who after living here for five years are now fluent.

I told Ellie that maybe I ought to enroll in her school and just sit in the back of the class, hoping that something French would penetrate into me. She looked at me somewhat puzzled and commented that "I might be a little old" for her class. Maybe too old but certainly not too advanced.

Last week at the Marche Nocturne, I bought some fabulous pain (bread) at the table set up by the boulangerie. It had a subtle hazelnut taste, golden crust and forked ends. It was devoured in minutes by ravenous friends ripping off chunks as if at a medieval fair. I didn't pay any attention to what it was called, but intended to get more.

This morning my craving got the better of me, but before I headed off for croissants, pain au chocolat and "mystery pain", I decided to arm myself with an appropriate description of the desired object---an illustration. Many of you know that Doug is the artist, so my sketch resembles something Fergus could have drawn.

Avez vous du pain se resemble a....and I pull out my Picasso. Voila! "Sarmentine" he proudly points out to me as he sets down two loaves of the luscious forked bread, so that I know this for the next time. I realize my pronunciation of "du" and "deux" must need some work, but this is one mistake I can live with. Sometimes it's the little successes that keep me going.


Anonymous said...

That lovely bread has made Luke hungry...thank God it's only 5 minutes to lunch time!

You seem to be having a wonderful summer...French-speaking phone call difficulties notwithstanding!

I'm hoping I might get to visit next all depends on the amount of money I'm going to owe my Southern-speaking dentist!

Thanks for all the pictures and commentary...I do so enjoy my vicarious visits to France.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem too sad that du was mistaken for duex, that bread sounds mighty fine.

Anonymous said...

My favorite bread is le fougasse. One of the flavors is with bacon bits, big thick bacon bits throughout, it is a little bacon greasy tasting and I love it so. Leslie

Anonymous said...

Another thought, re du et duex. One of my French teachers somewhere along the line said, "If you can learn to make the correct sound for the French u you will be on your way to sounding like a French woman." The u gives away even the best attempt at passing for un citoyen. Here's how you do it; form a circle with your lips as if you are going to whistle, then say eeee without changing the shape of your mouth. A good word to know is ecureille (squirrel). That is a great opportunity to pronounce the French u. Leslie