Sunday, August 19, 2018

Turns Out I’m Not Cinderella

For years, after raising kids and working, I've been climbing in bed at 10 or 10:30 every night. I'd rarely make it to midnight on New Year's Eve, dozing off and waking up in time to toast.
This week alone, I've been out dancing and enjoying my friends past midnight two separate nights.
It's a definite shake up of a sedentary, Middle American life.
Wednesday was the final day of the Festival of Quillan, the village where we live. They'd had music from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for four nights in a row, and the final night included fireworks. We had friends over for dinner but let them know we planned to head downtown for the celebrations. They decided to watch the fireworks from their home perched above the city, so when they left about 15 minutes before 10, Earl and I walked down the hill to join the crowd.
We luckily found a table where a family with a stroller was leaving, so we sat down to enjoy a glass of red wine as the band played.
Light show

And they were good! Covering all the popular songs along with numerous French songs we didn't know but swayed back and forth to. Friends passed our table, stopping to exchange cheek kisses and say hello.
Earl and I danced on the cobblestones in front of the stage then returned to the table to drink wine until we saw the crowd beginning to shift toward the old bridge.
Our view from the table
The fireworks would be going off soon.
As we made our way toward the bridge, we passed more friends seated at tables, so kissed our way through the crowd. Luckily, Earl's kind of a big guy so he managed to clear a space and we could watch the 15-minute firework display.
I took two pictures then put my phone away to watch without a filter.
I'd thought we would go home afterward, but as we made our way past the stage, the music started and we stayed to dance. For a good hour, we jumped, danced and followed the choreography of the leader to "Hey Baby (I wanna know if you would you be my girl)"
The band really engaged the audience and the female dancer/singers changed costumes throughout.
I saw on Facebook later that the band gathered the children on stage. So, somewhere between midnight and two a.m., they invited the kids from the crowd to join them.
I took this from the city's Facebook post
Finally, thirsty and needing to find a toilet, Earl and I walked home. So strange to gather steps on my Fitbit for the next day.
Then Saturday was another community dinner. I was a bit unsure about the menu, but convinced myself and Earl that the important thing was the camaraderie. So we gathered under the tent to share a meal. 20 Euros for aperitifs (predinner drinks and nibbles)

Community under the tent
Followed by cassoulet dishes filled with mussels.
I ate about two-thirds of mine then passed them along to Steve sitting next to me. 
Everywhere there commented on the deliciousness of the sauce - cream, white wine, garlic.

They set out bins for the discarded mussel shells
Earl was a little close to me for a picture, but I couldn't resist capturing him as he worked his way through the mussels.
We learned you should never pry open a mussel that didn't open during cooking. It was dead when it went in the pot. 
Our next dish gave me pause as well. Pork cheeks, or jowls. I wondered why I was okay eating pork cheeks if we're talking about the hindquarters but hesitated to eat the cheeks. Something about the face, I think.
When we got it, Dave across the table immediately removed the flat bone and set it on an empty plate in the middle of the table. I wondered if it simply slid out, cause it kind of bothered me to look at it.
"Give me your plate," he said. So I did and he deboned it for me while Earl accused me of being a five-year-old who needed her meat cut up.
Pork cheeks on potato and onion confit
Even with the bone gone, the meat was fairly fatty. I ate a few bites but did not become a convert. The potatoes and pearl onions were quite tasty. Then dance music got cranked up and Earl and I swirled onto the dance floor before dessert could be served.

Tiramisu for dessert
Some entertainment began that might have been more suited for the French, and we headed across from the train station for a glass of wine with our friends. We chatted and laughed until after midnight as the waitress sat on the edge of a nearby table smoking a cigarette waiting for us to leave.
We walked home to the strains of the music which had cranked up again.
Staying up late, enjoying the company of friends, and getting out of bed when I wake up.
I might have it better than Cinderella did.


Unknown said...

It sounds like a great life!! Good food and friends and being where you worked so hard to be ��Vive la France ����

sillygirl said...

Just think of those times when you were wondering if you really wanted to tear yourselves away from you "usual" life in the U.S.!

Jeanie said...

Sounds just wonderful, Paulita! Oh, those mussels. I can't resist them -- I'd fill up on that and leave the pork behind. So glad you are now making friends and enjoying good company. Nice to be in one spot awhile!

Sim Carter said...

Wow! I think I'm jealous of your new life. It sounds like you have a whole new lease on life. A Santé

But you are in France, Madame said...

You sound happy. So pleased for you.

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