Kings, Queens and Cheese

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Along time ago, in a far away land, called “France” people put little figurines in cakes and then had a party.

This is basically all you need to know.  There is some other stuff, but it’s really not important and will only make people feel annoyed by you at cocktail parties.

What is important is this celebration, especially the word, roi.  Roi means King and I am a huge fan of royalty.  I love sorting people out by madeup bloodlines and then determining which of these people is more important than the others.  It makes thing easy.  In my pocketbook, I keep a simple square of paper.  On it, it shows a person with a crown and the words “LISTEN TO” and then there is a picture of someone without a crown and the words “CONTINUE TEXTING.”  It helps me out in all sorts of situations.

Anyway, to celebrate this holiday, Vincent and I decided to have a party.  We decided to have raclette which is a very great way to gain a lot of weight while eating something delicious.  This was my first time having raclette and I was delighted.  We melted the cheese in these small trays and then shuffled them onto the plate and dipped bread and potatoes into it.  Scrumptious!

Conveniently, I also told everyone to “not worry” and “please put your trays on top of this thing right here” which very quickly melted everyone’s plastic.  Nothing goes well with organic cheese, than simmering black plastic.  Also, scrumptious!

I invited a few French enthusiasts to this party and they kindly brought different French things: wine, the cake (which I felt “too tired” to make and instead watched a French drama), this amazingly strong, but very green liquor called “Chartreuese” and some delicious pastries.  The best way to get people to bring you free stuff is to have a party, especially when you tell them to “feel free to bring French things” and subtly hint that they will not be invited back if they don’t.

The guests were a good looking bunch.  One wore a lion dress.  Another, a crocheted beret and bowtie.  It was hard not to feel we were surrounded by movie stars.  I should have asked for autographs, but by the end of the night we had all ended up in one of the guest’s bedroom, drinking Chartreuse and surveying his sock collection.  C’est Magnifique!

Overall, it was a fine evening.  I especially enjoyed my guests enthusiasm for the French, a group of people who I will write a letter to and ask them for a membership card.  It will go something like this:

    CHER FRANCAIS,

              I have a lot of work to do regarding fully understanding your culture, but I am making tremendous progress here in the United States.  If accepted into your club, I will do my best at not terribly mispronouncing your words.  I will eat a large amount of your cheese.  I will drink your wine with the gusto of an opera singer.  Do not worry. I  know a lot about wine. I went to a French vineyard when I was sixteen and took a six minute class on it.  Here I was taught how to stick my nose into the cup.  It should be noted I have exquisite nostrils.  I also know how to tell strangers that “Je t’aime” which I have found is a very effective way to make friends.  Please let me know at your earliest convenience if I may be part of you.  I don’t know if this helps, but I can type 87 words per minute and in middle school had a non-speaking part in a play.

                               YOURS SINCERELY,

                                               Alexis

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Well then, I’ll bring the country to me.

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IMG_0382IMG_0352_2IMG_0405IMG_0169  (Chocolat Chaud top left, Fromage de Vincent top middle, Beaujolais top right, Aspring French person bottom left, Authentic French person with cheese bitten into the shape of France bottom right)

Quite right.  I’ll bring the whole country to me while I am living in America.  If I can’t actually be there, I’ll bring everything I can to me, here, in cold and snowy Buffalo.

To learn a language, one must immerse themselves.  Instead of taking a plane to Paris, I am lassoing the entire country to me.

I have already essentially forced Vincent to be my private French tutor.  While speaking to each other over Skype while he is away, I demand “En Francais!” in my dictator voice.  This indicates that we should immediately switch from English to French.  Immediately!  He is also very nicely creating a French group here in Buffalo and we will meet with a couple other students once a week and converse over a glass of vin rouge.

I also listen to what seems to be the French equivalent of NPR.  I listen to it via my iPad.  C’est super!  It helps with the accent and trying to be a good listener.  I love speaking French but I am tres mal at listening to French.  I will be kind of that annoying work colleague who won’t stop talking about their cats, only it will be in French.  Moi chat est tres bien!  Oh!  Moi chat! Moi chat!  Mon mari oh je veux dire mon chat!

I also found a new French TV show: Spiral.  C’est tres cool! It’s a French police drama with this amazing inspector, Laure.  She is top notch.  She has this cool team of inspectors and they fight Parisian crime together.  Because of the show, I now realize how to say “d’accord.”  You have to kind of say it like a buttery knife cutting through bread: DAHY CORE! Kind of like you are a pirate claiming a prisoner: DAHY CORE!  That’s how you say okay in France.  I use it a lot now with Vincent.  He really enjoys it.  I can tell by the scared look in his eyes.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of French music.  Right now, I am way into “La Femme.”  They are sick.  Super good.  Tres bien! Although I also listen to a lot of 1930s French music but I like the current music better.  It just seems that Americans correlate French music with dinner party music, so when I look for French playlists I get Edith Pilaf.  There is nothing wrong with Edith Pilaf.  She is tremendous, but I prefer music coming out now because I feel like this will help me to make French friends.  A simple “La Bande, La Femme, est super!”  “Je suis d’accord!”  “Allez a le cafe! et tu vais mon ami!”  See.  Easy, really.

Lastly, I read a lot of books about France.  I’ve read two of Peter Mayle’s (“French Lessons” and “A Year in Provence”) about the food of France and living the expat life in Provence.  I’ve also read David Sedaris’ books about his life in Paris (“Me Talk Pretty One Day”).  It was hilarious.  He is a fantastically good writer and anyone who hasn’t read “Stepping Out” in a fairly recent New Yorker, should read it.  It’s about him getting a Fitbit in Paris.  Funny!  Now, I am currently reading “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”  It’s by Mireille Guiliano and she is such a lovely writer.  I like her perspective on the two countries.  I also think she’s very elegant in her choice of words.

So, this is my plan.  If I can’t go to a French speaking country within the next couple months, then I’ll just bring all French things to me.  Write in with any suggestions of music or books that you have for me.

I think all my hard work is paying off because at dinner the other night my English grandmother said “Lex has gone French on us.”  Yup.  It’s definitely paying off.