Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the French Countryside: Time with Family

The last two weeks, I was in France, one week visiting with family in the countryside to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday and one week in Paris.  I'm going to break up the trip into several posts...since I took nearly 400 pictures in that time! There was a lot to see and lots of good memories made.

We were the first to arrive at Luxé, where my grandmother has a little country home, so we got to relax and settle in a little Wednesday and Thursday before everyone arrived for the weekend celebrations (lots and lots of eating!).
The weather was a little cooler there, so my aunt Babette thought Indiana should wear a sweater. It wasn't THAT cold...but he was so cute in it, it didn't matter. He loved playing with that train.
And it wasn't so cold that Indiana couldn't try out the baby pool on a sunny afternoon. He and my cousin's 22 month old, Henri, got to have their own private pool while the other kids played in the bigger pool.
Mom had a fun time relaxing and helping in the kitchen. 
My grandmother, Mamie Paulette, and my cousin Nathalie made three Norwegian strawberry and cream cakes.
This was just a family dinner, not the party itself...15 people sitting down to a casual dinner in the garden! I had to take a picture because among other things, we were eating chili that I had made since my aunt Babette suggested it. It was very exotic for them and generally enjoyed. But there was roasted pork tenderloin and ham and rice and melon and cheese and bread and dessert too!

This picture is my grandmother and all four children, Aunt Sylvie, Aunt Babette, Uncle Alain, and Mamie and Mom at the end. The whole family hasn't been together since 2003, so it was a real treat to see everyone. I've visited in 2008 and 2010, but still, it's a shame that we see this side of the family so rarely. They're all really fun, interesting and radically different in personality and interests and lifestyle. We've got the very posh upper-crust types and more bohemian, working-class types too. Makes dinner conversation interesting!
Indy and my grandmother's lab, Solo, all ready for the party! Through the course of the trip, Indiana crawled less and less. In French they describe crawling as "walking with four feet," and I thought that was really cute, especially juxtaposed next to a four-legged friend.

I brought toys and masks as gifts for the kids...but I think their parents, here my cousins Nathalie and Pascal, got more of a kick out of them.

My cousin Adeline, and her middle child, Blanche. I stayed with Adeline at her apartment in Paris. It was awesome, and it was really fun to get to spend time with her and her family more.
Even Antoine, the most typically French (as in stuffy!) of my cousins tried on a mask, much to the delight of his adorable daughter, Apolline. We were more than stuffed at that point. It was a feast!
I think we started with champagne and snacks around two, then slices of ripe melon with prosciutto, then the fish course which was stuffed salmon and creamed vegetables, then sliced beef tenderloin (very rare) with au gratin potatoes (pommes de terres dauphinois) with lots of cream, at least six different kinds of cheese, cake and cookies, with wine and more champagne with dessert! I think we were at the table for nearly four hours. I feel full just thinking about it.

The kids (L to R, Apolline, Eloi, Rudy, Blanche and Camille) had their own table and could eat and then play as they wanted.

But they came back for dessert! I made chocolate chip cookies, which were a giant hit, especially with the kids. I don't think they lasted more than 15 minutes at the table. So funny, that the French who are experts at amazing pastry don't really know how to make well things that we consider basic, like cookies, muffins and pancakes, but they're becoming more popular despite the fact that the French don't know how to make them. I saw pre-made pancakes (yuck!), Oreos and maple syrup in the grocery store for the first time. They even had Tex-Mex ingredients at the grocery store in the neighboring tiny town of Mansles. It was fun to get to cook and contribute at little American cuisine (as paradoxical as the French might think that is!) to the party. 
Indiana liked the cookies too. I think he got his hands on at least four, thanks to kind family members handing the baby cookies!

Rudy the oldest of the kiddos, my cousin's Nathalie's son, wearing the cap I brought him, and little Henri, Adeline's son, who is just 7 months older than Indiana. Henri and Indy got to play a lot more in Paris.
Indiana and the enormous bread! There was one loaf of bread left over on Monday for those that stayed to relax a little. Dad, Indiana, and I drove to Paris the next day, but it was good to have Monday to recover from all that feasting and fun. 

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Loved seeing the pics of the French children and hearing about the food! Btw, I'm sure you've heard of the book Bringing Up Bebe, and I would love to get your take on French vs. American parenting sometime!