Life in a small French village for an old American

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corkybstewart

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I married a French woman with a very large family 41 years ago and we've visited almost every year so this is a long term observation.
First of all, French people in this area of France love life. Life revolves around family and community, much more so than in anyplace I've lived in the US. Almost every day we are invited to somebody's house for drinks(aperitif) or meals, not because we just got here, but because somebody is inviting others over and want to include us. Sunday we went to the fall festival of a village nearby and spent the day with friends and family drinking wine, beer, eating too much, but mostly just hanging out.
Alcohol is a part of every part of every day, but alcoholism isn't. If I go across the street to my brother in law's house in the morning I will be offered coffee or rose wine, one serving of either. Before lunch there is aperitif which can be complicated or simple. If someone shows up here before lunch we bust out the peanuts, pretzels, chips, and ask the guest what their drink preference is. Choices are usually port wine, whisky, pastis, beer, or wine. Generally 2 rounds are served, but in a well planned aperitif setting half the day can be spent drinking. I rarely have more than 2 drinks, but if I'm next door all bets are off. Planned aperitif can involve vast amounts of elaborate snacks, exceptional wines, and other drinks. Strangely, a person can be invited for lunch aperitif(or dinner) without being invited to stay for the meal and no offense is taken.

All of this observation hit me this morning as I surveyed the furniture we bought from a friend who was cleaning out her dying mother's house. Most of this furniture will be storage for the tools of alcohol consumption. We have armoires and buffets filled with glasses-40 red wine glasses, 14 white wine glasses, beer glasses, whisky glasses, glasses for both Pernod and Ricard. Shot glasses, champagne flutes, water glasses, coffee cups of all sizes and shapes. Decanters, ice buckets for champagne, stuff I don't even really understand but that has to be available in case someone wants it. We have another buffet for liquor because who knows what the next guest will want to drink so we have to have a very full range of booze on hand. Cheap Scotch, single malt, Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, tequila, gin, vodka, at least 2 kinds of rum. Our friend gave me her mother's refrigerator which now holds a decent assortment of French and Belgian beers, including several varieties of non alcoholic beers for people who don't drink.
And the best part of this is that we really drink very little or at least we drink very reasonably. All this booze is on hand so that we will have something to offer to whoever comes by for whatever reason, at any time during the day. Rural French people(in this area) value the art of hospitality and they will prove it to you whether you are family or a total stranger.
 

MaxStout

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The French definitely know how to balance work and relaxation. Drinking and eating well are ingrained in their cultural DNA.

We went to Cote d'Azur several years ago, and really enjoyed it, especially up in the "hill towns." We so want to go back.
 

Dland

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Heck of a lot more civilized than around here. Working stiffs scholg all day to keep our rich clients happy, then get semi-bombed at end of day to numb the aches & worries. At least I get to do it w home brew. ;}
 
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corkybstewart

corkybstewart

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One of the biggest drawbacks to this life, especially when 9 of her siblings live within 3 miles. is that people pop in all day long to say hello and have a quick drink or a cup of coffee, which means you have to stop whatever you are doing and provide hospitality. Last week an acquaintance of my wife stopped by while we were caulking the front porch windows, and she proceeded directly into the house and sat down for a quick drink. We both had to stop our work, clean up and sit with her for 30 minutes, by which time a nephew came over and proceeded to stay all evening. \in th US we live in New Mexico, hundreds of miles from family, and too far out in the woods for drive-by visiting, so we're not as used to it as everybody else is.
 
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corkybstewart

corkybstewart

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Today I was having no luck finding a local white wine for lunch, we live in a red wine for everything area but there are a few good whites when you can find them, So I broke down, went to a grocery store and found a couple of bottles and got in line. A guy let me go in front because he had a cart full. I watched him put about 8 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of rose sparkling wine, 3 bottles of white sparkling, a bottle each of cheap Scotch, a single malt, Jack Daniels and a bottle of Pernod on the belt. I asked where the party was and he said he was just stocking up on aperitif drinks for the weekend. Again, this is all stuff that will be offered to guests, although I bet that like me he is happy to stop what he's doing and share a drink with whoever stops by.
 
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