I threw together a bag lunch for today–I was in a hurry–and then ran out the door this morning without it. One of a number of things that had made me a bit moody as the day began.
School is not near any stores, and the only restaurant nearby has painfully slow service, so eating there is not an option. I asked my classmates if anyone was driving into the center of town today at lunchtime, and V said yes, she was. So, we hopped into her Mercedes van and headed for the center of Plañvour. A couple of other times I’d forgotten my lunch and we had gone to the newish supermarket in the town center, but V said that this time she wanted meto try the butcher shop she’d discovered right across from the church.
They have wonderful sandwiches and other foods that are excellent, she said. And, as she explained, she prefers to buy quality foods made by local merchants.
As we got out of the car, I noticed a sign at a local wine shop across the way. Beaujolais Nouveau! I’d forgotten, but today is the day that Beaujolais Nouveau wines are allowed to go on sale to the public. I was eager to see what the store had on offer and to take part in the modern French (and international) ritual of trying the Beaujolais Nouveau when it comes out. The custom only goes back a few decades, but it’s a entertaining mix of clever marketing and seasonal celebration. I’ve picked up Beaujolais Nouveau before in the U.S., but when in France….
The store offered a handful of Beaujolais labels, none of which I had seen before in the States. They even had a few non-Beaujolais early releases, as well. A knowledgeable man in the back of the store was offering samples of the wines. We tried a non-Beaujolais first. I didn’t like it, and couldn’t finish what was in my glass–a bit too acidic for my taste. Then we asked to try the unfiltered Beaujolais. I don’t think I’ve ever had unfiltered wine before, and I was curious. He opened a bottle and poured us each a small glass. What a wonderful taste–richer and a bit drier than a typical new wine, and a pleasantly balanced flavor. V and I decided we would each get a bottle. As we moved away from the tasting, we discovered a table laden with snacks provided for the special event. Try this, a woman said, it’s also from Beaujolais. We each tried a bit of the cheeses, breads, and other treats. They all tasted very good: whether it was in fact the food itself or the conviviality, I cannot truly say, but I truly enjoyed myself. V almost had to drag me out of there. As we paid for our wines, the proprietor to ow strict the rules are about selling dates for these new wines.
They have police out on the street, you know, he told us. One of my customers showed up last night at 7:30 and asked to buy a bottle of the Beaujolais Nouveau. I had to explain to him that we’re not allowed to sell it before the official date. That’s why some stores stay open for midnight sales parties on Wednesday nights.
We headed out for the butcher shop and bought some food. I got a quiche Provençal and a Greek salad. At the last minute, a delicious-looking apple mini-tart caught my eye, and I bought it, too, for tonight’s dessert.
Tonight, I invited my classmate and neighbor M over for a glass of wine. I found a couple of wine glasses, and even managed to open the bottle with the kitchy Breton sailor wine-opener that I’d found in the kitchen. Then M and I toasted the end of the week and my conference paper that had been presented in New Orleans last night in my absence. We also toasted the forty beautiful roses that my wonderful sweetheart, J, had sent me today in honor of the day that we met four years ago. The flowers were a surprise that a florist delivered to me at school right at the end of our lunch break. The combination of our lunchtime Beaujolais adventure and the beautiful anniversary flowers from J had turned a not-so-great day into a very special one.
Yeched mat! (Cheers!)