|Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ wondering
what he should have in his packed lunch
Not since Harold stood with both eyes looking out over the English Channel in October 1066 has a French invasion been so fearfully anticipated.
I was thinking this yesterday as I stood in front of a selection of pates and cold meats in Tesco, wondering what to buy for our French exchange student who arrives tomorrow. As I stood there, deliberating over a packet of Brussels pate and wondering if he’d mind that it wasn’t from France, I was joined by a friend of mine who is also having a French boy to stay and was therefore looking equally stressed. We both had croissants in our trolleys.
It’s a dilemma. Do I try and give the young lad some traditional British fare, so that he is immersed in our culture and heritage, or buy some French treats to make him feel at home? A bit of both, I think. Hence I’m cooking a beef stew and dumplings for his first meal tomorrow night but have bought him his favourite chorizo sausage for his packed lunches (though it’s Spanish, which kind of muddies the water.)
The packed lunch saga has been my main worry, truth be told. Rory, for the last few years, has been allowed into town at lunchtime so his midday meal is a Greggs’ steak bake or a bag of chips. But the French students will be on trips to Cambridge and London so I have to supply a pack-up. It took me an hour today to hunt out a Tupperware box; twice as long to find the corresponding lid. I’ve bought Walkers crisps in every variety plus some traditional British treats, namely Club biscuits and KitKats but then went off on a tangent picking up Port Salut and Boursin cheeses.
|Maybe he’d like a chip pizza like this one we had in the Dordogne in 2010.|
I may just open the fridge, point, and let him choose. Let’s face it, there will be a considerable amount of pointing going on unless Jean Pierre speaks good English. By the way, Jean Pierre is his nom-de-plume (wow, did you see what I did there? Even thinking in French now). As I mentioned in a previous post, The French are Coming, I don’t want him googling himself and becoming anxious about his host family.
I daren’t tell JP I studied French at A level. That might lead him to think I’m able to speak the lingo when, in fact, my spoken French is pitiful. Give me a copy of Voltaire’s Candide and I’ll make a decent fist of summarising the story, but ask me to use verbs and string a sentence together and I’m scuppered. I was always a bit of a noun girl: liked to memorise the words in my vocabulary book. I remember ‘le mouchoir’ is a hankie and ‘le parapluie’ is an umbrella but ask me to say, “I have lost my hankie; maybe it’s where I left my umbrella” and a long silence will ensue.
Having said that, I was quite proud of myself last night watching University Challenge. Jeremy Paxman asked the following question:
“Putting the English preposition ‘in’ into the French word for ‘an inn’ gives the name for which fruit, eaten as a vegetable?”
Both Manchester and Newcastle University contestants said, ‘pineapple’ and ‘tomato’ respectively, but I shouted out ‘aubergine’ and was correct because I knew the French word for an inn is ‘une auberge’.
I may try and tell this story to JP tomorrow evening but, I fear, it may lose something in translation.