Welcome to The Aix-Files

Thanks for checking out The Aix-Files, my

blog postings inspired by my time in and around

Aix-en-Provence and the Vaucluse. The spot includes travel tips,

discoveries of local food and wine, recipes,

cultural events, interviews and historical

tidbits about Southern France. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

French Class

I seem to have pulled one over on them. Not intentionally, but I have been placed in a French class that’s too advanced for my level. And I’m not sure if they know it yet. The other day, I was having lunch with Ruth, a psychiatrist from Switzerland, who had just given her presentation in class. Her topic was the relativity of time, or actually the acceleration of time in society today, how the rhythm of life is changing, how technology is transforming our behaviour and how our social life is being affected.

Then she made a point of asking my age, because she had no clue. Of course I am now fifty, but it was funny, because just at that moment, as I was trying to have a meaningful conversation with her, I felt like a child, because there was so much I wanted to say, but I struggled with the means to express it. And so I continue, plugging away at my vocabulary, and wondering when they’re going to find me out.

-Finally learned what to do with a fresh foie gras, including how to poach an eggshell filled with mousse of foie gras.
-Baked a swiss chard tarte and brought it to a lunch with some people who live here.
-Visited the Oppidum, the original Celto-Ligurian settlement north of Aix, as well as the Lauves district, from where Cézanne painted Montagne Sainte-Victoire.
-Went on a day-long mountain hike in the Verdon with some actual French people, then another one in the Alpilles. This makes me a two-time imposter: pretending that I can speak French and pretending that I am a mountain climber.
-Tried to pretend I was a local by sitting at a café, reading a French newspaper. Then I looked over at the man next to me who was reading Nietzsche.

Autumn lasts a very long time here. We’ve watched the leaves change so gradually. Now the Cours Mirabeau is filling up with piles and piles of large leaves from the plane trees. The mornings and evenings are cool, but afternoons, if sunny, are still warm enough for lunch in the garden. Our apartment is called Sous le Tilleul. And the tilleul, or linden tree is still full and green.

I went by this place several times before I realized what it’s called, because the name, Le Brun’ch, is just scrawled on the window. It’s a really cute little hole-in-the wall, or “bouiboui”, not far from our French school, where I ate with Ruth. It’s jam-packed at lunch, so people rush to get there in time. The attraction is the array of home-made tartes, both savoury and sweet, that are displayed in the window. Savoury choices might include spinach with goat cheese; artichoke; or lardons (bacon) with crème fraîche. The list changes daily. And at 2.10 euros per slice, it’s got to be the best deal in town. Add a large green salad for another euro and you have the perfect lunch. There is also a daily plat du jour for a mere 7.50 euros.

What I like about this place is that it’s a family affair, with various family members both preparing and serving. Unfortunately, madame broke her leg recently, so is unable to stand behind the counter. I’m not certain who’s doing the actual baking at the moment, but I do know that she is maintaining quality control. Because she is still on hand every day, monitoring the proceedings, occupying a choice table by the counter, despite the long queue out the door.

Pictured above:
The flower maket in front of the Hôtel de Ville; Montagne Ste-Victoire from Cézanne's viewpoint at Les Lauves; Mom and Dad in Saignon, in the Luberon, one of our favourite memories;
the linden tree (tilleul) in our garden; foie gras mousse poached in an eggshell with a crisp caramel with pepper.

A la prochaine,


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