About a month after we bought the house, the area’s neighbourhood lunch was fortuitously to be held. They call it a Fête des Voisins, which is like a street party. I think there is even an official day for this Fête but people have them at any time, although not more than once a year.
It would be a great opportunity to get to know more of the neighbours and there were other reasons to look forward to it: one of the organisers told me that the donation was for the main dish which could be wild boar, could just be rabbit, it depended on what their hunters had managed to get, plus its accompaniments.
This was the France that we had hoped for. Not that we are in to hunting, but it makes for a very compagnarde sounding meal.
Our neighbours were obviously well practised in holding the event as there was a covered rigging and a fridge and hotplate set up on the field, along with tables and chairs, no need to bring our own.
It threatened to rain and did from time to time, the winds moving the clouds across us quickly so that the weather changed every ten minutes, which each time caused a Mexican Wave amongst the women of putting on or taking off their cardigans. The men with their superior body temperature control were unchanged throughout.
A photo of all attendees was taken in front of the opposite field – a field that I often walked past with the dog and wondered what the pretty plants could possibly be, they were of a type I hadn’t seen before. One of the ladies enlightened us. She took a pod and crushed it and held it up to our noses – mustard seeds. Although it was a mild scent, I’m not sure I would have got it straight away if she hadn’t told us.
We were given the usual good-natured ribbing about whether we would eat frogs legs, rabbit and snails (none of them are a problem for us, except for lots of little bones in rabbit that seem more trouble than it’s worth). They probably got to know us more than we got to know them, seeing as there were a lot more of them to start the same line of questioning with, but we can now more or less place who lives where and have an idea what some do for a living and even of what some enjoy doing for their leisure.
Everyone brought some dishes to share and several wines. Many of these were for people to try a wine of interest – one being a very old red burgundy, which despite not being a tad too old was still a highly pleasant and interesting drink with all that history in a glass.
Not wanting to offend, we sampled every wine that came our way, in our comparatively large wine glasses, which probably made for us receiving larger servings. Not fully moved in to our new property, those or some even larger tumblers were the only glass options we had.
Then it was time for digestifs and I tried some delicious homemade prune liqueur that, being on the sweet side, hid its alcohol content and slipped down far too easily.
Well, they certainly have strong constitutions this lot. Thoroughly tired and feeling a little worse for wear, we left at 7pm, leaving the others just settling in for the evening.
Some days later, I mentioned to a neighbour how we found it hard to keep up with them at the lunch and she said *in French), ‘That’s because it’s your first. Next year you’ll be fine.’
I look forward to future lunches but I think I’ll bring smaller wine glasses.