Lunch was waiting for us in Villeperdue with lapin (rabbit) stew, rice, beets, carrots, olives, cheese and fried plantain on the menu. Yes, you read that correctly. Fried plantain (bananas)!
I’ve loved them since I acquired the taste in the Caribbean, and it was further cultivated in Miami. Isaac and Florence invited us to lunch, and their son Manoah came home from school to be with us, also. Priscillia, their lovely daughter, couldn’t join us, but she will be at our house next for a meal.
How did all of this happen? I will only suggest that one should grab at each safe opportunity to speak with local people. Many English-speaking groups are here in France including clubs, church groups, sports groups and much more. Speak to people in the markets. With a few of your French words, gestures and their English, perhaps much better than your French, you can create a memory and possibly the beginning of a friendship. We stopped at a market in a nearby town earlier in the morning, but we didn’t find any extra guests for the dining table today.
Villeperdue is a very small community with an extravagantly beautiful, private chateau on the main street at the edge of the village. I snapped pictures the best that I could while Jim waited in the car ready for a get-away in case the owners didn’t appreciate paparazzi in their bushes and trees. When I hopped in the car, Jim said the gendarme had driven by. He sounded serious, but you never know with the kid who was voted “Wittiest” in high school.
We didn’t find the house with the rabbit stew baking and plaintain bubbling in the frying pan just right away, so we stopped at the boulangerie for directions. I know you are wondering why we went to the bakery for information and thinking why we didn’t go to a tourist information office instead. It worked! The owner of the boulangerie knows everyone in the village. She looked at the address and asked who we were looking for and immediately knew Isaac and Florence. The madame called Isaac, and he was there before you could say chocolate croissant. So very nice and helpful! See! You can find more good stuff, even non-fattening, in a boulangerie.
We talked and learned more about each other. Isaac is in construction, so we had something in common. Florence works also, assisting children with special needs. Just like the United States, both parents often work in France to meet the budget. We enjoyed the meal of rabbit stew, and it was a familiar dish since Alabama kitchens serve it up also. Chocolate dessert with coffee came next. Then, we enjoyed a tour of their garden to see lettuce, tomatoes, parsley and Swiss chard growing in the dark soil.
Chickens were clucking away in the corner and pecking the ground, looking for their lunch. Florence has canned many jars of vegetables, ready to feed the family, and the children have their own little garden with radish and pepper plants. The family has fun camping together with a caravan (camper trailer). I was a little envious. I could see Jim and me warming by a campfire along the river. Then I remembered my bad knee and Jim’s bad back and knew that La Maison Perrotin was the right choice for us. Further around their yard, we saw fruit trees, apple and peach were coming along with tiny fruit appearing on the branches. Jim admired their fine barbecue area that Isaac built. Grape vines will soon cover the seating area with a nice canopy of shade in the summer. I don’t know what they were cooking at the chateau down the road, but the atmosphere couldn’t possibly be as warm compared to what we enjoyed just a short hop away at Isaac and Florence’s home. Merci! Thank ya’ll!