Today's phrase: prendre les choses comme elles viennent
: to go with the flow
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
"Call Me Flo"
by Kristi Espinasse
At 3:30 this morning, au milieu de la nuit, we sat around the coffee table eating chouquettes and drinking coffee. Dad and Marsha were dressed for their flight home to Sun Valley, Idaho. We had spent the last two and a half weeks together, and yet we had not shown our American family all of La Ciotat.
We didn't go to Figuerolles and we never took La Voie Douce--the former railroad track which was now converted into a beautiful nature path for walking, cycling, and running... Ah well, there's always next time, la prochaine fois! Meantime, we ate, we swam, and we saw.... Here is a little of ce qu'on a vu.....
The charming "pointus" or wooden fishing boats at Port des Capucins, which we often passed on our way to the old port. This time of year the fishermen were painting and repairing the colorful vessels, a task that summed up my Dad and Marsha's view of La Ciotat in general: a clean, well-cared for city! My family was so impressed by the city's organization, by the clean streets, the urban renewal going on here at the moment, and by the kindness of the locals, including Sam who invited us over for un vrai festin (we thought we were coming for an apéro (drinks and cacahuètes), but this Algerian-born, former soldier in the Israeli army--who went on to become a bodyguard for a member of The Jackson Five--served us a rainbow of local specialties including pissaladière, anchoïade, and pastis. Sam represents just one in a colorful soup of characters who call La Ciotat home...imagine the myriad of stories that remain to be told by the rest of La Ciotadins!
Speaking of characters, the waitresses at Restaurant La Crique (what a find) have 'tude! They remind me of the take-no-bs servers from my American childhood (well, at least those on TV. Does anyone remember Flo, of "Mel's Diner"? While I'm here, I'll sidetrack to a nickname I've recently acquired, "Flo". It's short for "Go With the Flo" which is exactly why I did not keep up this French word journal while my Dad was here. I needed to put aside my rigid publishing schedule of the past 16 years--and chill!
It is important to point out these mirabelle plums, after we discovered two of these trees in our small garden (we suspected something was growing here, after seeing sticky prints on the ground when we moved here last August! The fruit has a delicious tartness which, when matured, is very sweet. We ate them like candy in between our aller-retours to town and to the beach...
In addition to the breathtaking Parc du Mugel, La Ciotat has an impressive municipal garden, somewhere near (over?) the underground parking lot. You can relax on a public bench and eat your sandwich... if you don't mind strangers wishing you "bon appétit". Swallow quickly and say "merci!"
Asked what was the highlight of their trip, and Dad and Marsha enthusiastically replied Plage du Mugel!...but at that point they had not seen another secret hideaway, farther up the coast. I'll tell you about that in the next post. It is time now to take a vacation from my family's vacation :-) I'm off to begin a new chapter in Ann Mah's lastest book, THE LOST VINTAGE, which just came out today. Please read along with me, order your copy here.
au milieu de la nuit = in the middle of the night
les chouquettes = little round puff pastries with large sugar sprinkles
la voie douce = the gentle path
la prochaine fois = the next time
ce qu'on a vu = what we saw
le festin = feast (read this entry from the archives)
un pointu = old wooden fishing boat, read more here
la pissaladière = a kind of pizza without tomato sauce (only carmelized onion, anchovy and olive)
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi