Frogs and snails and sugar and spice

The 11:28 to...

...Avignon.

A man can get a lot of thinking done while relaxing in a filing cabinet. One of the thoughts that occurred to me was to check my eurail pass status against the rest of the travel days I had planned that included getting back to Paris. Good thing I did, because if I continued at the current pace, my pass days would run out two days short of my planned stay. I was on my way to Avignon in the morning, and had planned to stay two days and make several short out and back trips to ...somewhere. This would be a good time then to get off the pass and pay cash for these trips.

At the station I bought a ticket to Avignon for about $7, and took a seat to figure what I’d be doing for the rest of the day. I saw that the town of Cavaillon was only another thirty minutes farther on. That was one of the towns Mayle had mentioned in A Year in Provence, so it sounded like a spot to arrive, have a glass and then ride back to Avignon for an early dinner.

There was only a fifteen minute wait between trains in Avignon, so I stayed at the station. When I got out at Cavaillon, there were two inviting cafes just across the street, and nothing in sight of any historical structure, church, chateau or museum that I had to avoid. In short, it was a perfect spot for me and Claude (The backpack continues to gain weight as the week progresses, so it can’t be dead. Accordingly, I’ve given it a name.) to plop and enjoy a drink and wait for the 14:08 back to Avignon.

  Several of the patrons were enjoying a robust roast chicken, its ample breast jutting proudly skyward from the plate. I was between meals at the time, plus there wasn’t that much lag until my train back to Avignon. But I made a mental note of what that majestic chicken would look like on a plate in front of me at a later time perhaps.

  After settling into my hotel in Avignon, I walked back to the main drag and found a cafe offering a fixed three-course menu that included escargot. Carolyn and I had several times discussed giving snails a try, but we never could bring ourselves to take the plunge. Something about eating a creature from the dark, moist part of your garden didn’t get the digestive juices flowing. Since this trip was about branching out from Carolyn and I to just I, the occasion seemed to cry out for a small plate of the little slime runners.

  The snails arrived with what appeared to be a surgical tray you might find in an outpatient medical center. It’s important to find a firm grip on the shells with the clamp; otherwise your snail can easily become airborne. Digging the little boogers (not that much of an exaggeration) out was easy enough. As to flavor and texture, meh, I’d have to say the snail serves primarily as a basil and garlic delivery system. Once those flavors are dissolved in your mouth, though, you are basically chewing a rubber band. It’s also best not to think about where these creatures call home while you’re chewing on them.

  The main course consisted of about a washtub full of quite tasty mussels in a clear basil and garlic broth. Between the garlic in the muscles and also the snails earlier, it was probably a blessing that I was traveling alone.

  During dinner a dad sat down across from me with his young daughter. As is my usual wish in the presence of children, I wait for a chance to get their attention. This occurred rather quickly, and I was shortly introduced to Lea, aged two and a half. She was eating a chocolate ice cream, though after a few spoonfulls, it might have been the ice cream eating her. Her dad told her I was an American, and she immediately became keen on showing me she could say her colors in English. It happened that my Rosetta Stone program had just taught me the colors in French, and I was keen to show her what I knew.

  Game on, Chocolate Face.

  “Blue,” she began.

colors in french.jpg

  “Bleue,” I replied.

  “Pink,” she continued.

  “Rose,” I answered.

  And so it continued.

  “Jaune.”

  “Yellow.”

  “Vert.”

  “Green.”

  “Blanc.”

  “White.”

  “Braun.”

  “...”

  At that point she turned and said something to her father. Her dad explained, “She said we did that one already.”

  Well, we hadn’t, Little Miss Pedantic, but I let it go. We continued the game for a couple of more rounds, and then her ice cream was gone, and that apparently meant the game was over.

  I did earn a wave and a smile as they departed, and soon I was in the process of getting chocolate mousse all over my face and shirt. I did see Lea again the next day. Her father and she were crossing the street in front of the pub I was sitting at. I recognized her dad, but not her. Two and a half year-old girls with golden curls all look alike to me. 

“Frogs and snails and sugar and spice

The 11:28 to...”

 

         October 1,

 

...Avignon.

A man can get a lot of thinking done while relaxing in a filing cabinet. One of the thoughts that occurred to me was to check my eurail pass status against the rest of the travel days I had planned that included getting back to Paris. Good thing I did, because if I continued at the current pace, my pass days would run out two days short of my planned stay. I was on my way to Avignon in the morning, and had planned to stay two days and make several short out and back trips to ...somewhere. This would be a good time then to get off the pass and pay cash for these trips.

At the station I bought a ticket to Avignon for about $7, and took a seat to figure what I’d be doing for the rest of the day. I saw that the town of Cavaillon was only another thirty minutes farther on. That was one of the towns Mayle had mentioned in A Year in Provence, so it sounded like a spot to arrive, have a glass and then ride back to Avignon for an early dinner.

There was only a fifteen minute wait between trains in Avignon, so I stayed at the station. When I got out at Cavaillon, there were two inviting cafes just across the street, and nothing in sight of any historical structure, church, chateau or museum that I had to avoid. In short, it was a perfect spot for me and Claude (The backpack continues to gain weight as the week progresses, so it can’t be dead. Accordingly, I’ve given it a name.) to plop and enjoy a drink and wait for the 14:08 back to Avignon.

  Several of the patrons were enjoying a robust roast chicken, its ample breast jutting proudly skyward from the plate. I was between meals at the time, plus there wasn’t that much lag until my train back to Avignon. But I made a mental note of what that majestic chicken would look like on a plate in front of me at a later time perhaps.

  After settling into my hotel in Avignon, I walked back to the main drag and found a cafe offering a fixed three-course menu that included escargot. Carolyn and I had several times discussed giving snails a try, but we never could bring ourselves to take the plunge. Something about eating a creature from the dark, moist part of your garden didn’t get the digestive juices flowing. Since this trip was about branching out from Carolyn and I to just I, the occasion seemed to cry out for a small plate of the little slime runners.

  The snails arrived with what appeared to be a surgical tray you might find in an outpatient medical center. It’s important to find a firm grip on the shells with the clamp; otherwise your snail can easily become airborne. Digging the little boogers (not that much of an exaggeration) out was easy enough. As to flavor and texture, meh, I’d have to say the snail serves primarily as a basil and garlic delivery system. Once those flavors are dissolved in your mouth, though, you are basically chewing a rubber band. It’s also best not to think about where these creatures call home while you’re chewing on them.

  The main course consisted of about a washtub full of quite tasty mussels in a clear basil and garlic broth. Between the garlic in the muscles and also the snails earlier, it was probably a blessing that I was traveling alone.

  During dinner a dad sat down across from me with his young daughter. As is my usual wish in the presence of children, I wait for a chance to get their attention. This occurred rather quickly, and I was shortly introduced to Lea, aged two and a half. She was eating a chocolate ice cream, though after a few spoonfulls, it might have been the ice cream eating her. Her dad told her I was an American, and she immediately became keen on showing me she could say her colors in English. It happened that my Rosetta Stone program had just taught me the colors in French, and I was keen to show her what I knew.

  Game on, Chocolate Face.

  “Blue,” she began.

  “Bleue,” I replied.

  “Pink,” she continued.

  “Rose,” I answered.

  And so it continued.

  “Jaune.”

  “Yellow.”

  “Vert.”

  “Green.”

  “Blanc.”

  “White.”

  “Braun.”

  “...”

  At that point she turned and said something to her father. Her dad explained, “She said we did that one already.”

  Well, we hadn’t, Little Miss Pedantic, but I let it go. We continued the game for a couple of more rounds, and then her ice cream was gone, and that apparently meant the game was over.

  I did earn a wave and a smile as they departed, and soon I was in the process of getting chocolate mousse all over my face and shirt. I did see Lea again the next day. Her father and she were crossing the street in front of the pub I was sitting at. I recognized her dad, but not her. Two and a half year-old girls with golden curls all look alike to me.