Today we celebrated Canada Day, here in Daglan, France. Seriously, eh? Yes, right from breakfast onwards, it’s been a bi-cultural day of joyous fun, patriotic showing off, and (of course) eating.
The food, Part 1. Let’s start with breakfast. (Duh.) This morning my wife Jan made some very nice French toast (a bit of an achievement with gluten-free bread, but quite tasty), which we served with generous pourings of Canadian maple syrup. From Quebec. Yummy.
The colours, Part 1. Meanwhile, out front, our Canadian flags were displayed amidst a backdrop of authentic, French-grown wisteria. Like this one, on the side of the front steps just above our mailbox, which bears the words Les Érables, or The Maples:
The public education, Part 1. Of course, part of celebrating Canada Day in France is the joy of educating the French public about our special national day. For example, this morning after breakfast I was preparing for a bike ride when two couples walked past our house with a small dog on a leash; I could tell from their language (French) that they were French, and from their walking speed (very slow) that they were tourists. At one point, they stopped walking and one of the woman told me that they were just admiring our house. After I thanked her, I pointed back at our Canadian flags and let her know that today was la fête nationale of Canada. So there you go — four French people who now know the importance of July 1!
The food, Part 2. For lunch today, we celebrated Canada Day in style, sitting on the terrace of Le Petit Paris. Delicious, as always. We each began with a special entrée — a somewhat bizarre but still delicious terrine made with poached salmon and the meat from pig’s feet, served with anchovy sauce. (I know — same old, same old.) Then fish for Jan and slow-cooked beef for me.
The colours, Part 2. In honour of the day, Jan wore a white blouse and white skirt, with a wide red belt, while I wore a red shirt and white pants. Snappy, to say the least.
The public education, Part 2. Spreading the word about Canada Day is often a person-by-person activity. For instance, when Madame Guilbot of Le Petit Paris came to take our orders for lunch, I dutifully pointed out that July 1 is Canada Day, and that Jan and I were wearing the national colours. I also volunteered to sing “O Canada” after lunch, but Jan warned me (and Madame Guilbot) that my singing would clear out the restaurant, so I agreed to stay quiet. Later, when desserts were brought to a couple at a nearby table, I saw that a sparkler had been inserted in the woman’s dessert, and asked our waiter if this was in honour of Canada Day. Of course he replied that it was actually for her birthday (which is what I figured), but he quickly got the point — and so when our desserts arrived, guess what?
My dessert (shown above) was wonderful — delicious to eat and beautiful to behold. It was billed as apricot clafoutis, but it was Chef’s own interpretation of a clafoutis, served with sugar-dipped fresh strawberries and a puddle of sauce, topped with whipped cream, and decorated with a sprig of mint and one of fresh lavender. Here’s another view, after the sparkler was removed:
The public education, Part 3. Near the end of the afternoon (which Jan and I spent in a burst of athletic activity by watching television — Stage 1 of the Tour de France live, plus the last day of the European track and field finals from Helsinki), I was outside for a few minutes when a couple of villagers walked by. We are friendly with this couple, in a sort of French “let’s-be-friendly-but-let’s-not-overdo-it” sense, because we wave and say Bonjour to each other all the time, and chat when we meet at the fish truck each Wednesday in the village square. But we’re not yet on a first-name basis. (That may not take place for another three to five years.) However, as you might have expected, I did not miss a chance to point to the Canadian flags on the front of our house and let them know that today is Canada Day.
And very kindly, they wished me a bonne fête. What else could I reply but: Merci, et bonne soirée, eh?