Ahoy! Ohé! Participants (or pirates...) at Sunday's mischievous marmalade contest. Notice the historic grue, or crane, in upper left. Today's "words of the day" are submerged in the following story. Hunt for them like a deepsea treasure--or walk the plank! se faire jeter par-dessus bord! Mille mercis to Christiane, from La Ciotadenne, for the pictures that illustrate this post.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse
At the end of an unfamiliar driveway, near the historic old port of La Ciotat, Jean-Marc and I hesitated to get out of our car—partly because it was so windy and partly because we were unsure of le lieu. We were studying the facade of a 1950s bungalow, une maison de plain-pied, when the various nautical accents came into view. This had to be our friend Laetitia’s, newspaper journalist by day...and feisty capitaine by moonlit night.
Laetitia had invited us to her annual concours de confiture, or jam contest. While we were too late to enter, we could still be a part of the marmalade magouilles. This regatta of the senses was born one year ago when the massive bigaradier, a bitter orange tree behind Laetitia’s house, almost capsized under the weight of its sour load. Rather than let so much perfectly good fruit go to waste, our capitaine mapped out a new course—un concours—for the stranded fruit.
Bienvenue au Domaine du “Léticiota”
Given the tree is located at the end of two ultra mini rows of vines, Letitia dubbed the event "Le concours de confituriade et Vin D’oranges amères du Domaine du Léticiota." Which just goes to show you don’t have to have endless fields...to be a domain. All you need is an endless possibilities mindset—something our artist-capitaine has by the boatload!
There she was now, our suntanned capitaine with shoulder-length blond waves and a smile that would melt a pirate's heart. “Bienvenue!” our hostess waved, as we blew in with the Mistral, landing pil poil among a convivial circle of locals. There in the sunny side yard, we met the accidental “confituriers” who had previously been given a box of sour fruit and un défi: make jam and wine with these sour oranges! (The wine category is a new addition to this seaside citrus adventure.)
In the distance, not far from where Laetitia and boyfriend Jean dock their 1939 voilier, the famous shipyard grues of La Ciotat could be seen, rivaling an Eiffel Tower view. After an apéro, braved amidst the icy wind and an onslaught of ashes (we were seated beside the bbq) our seaworthy hostess clapped her hands and quickly got down to business naming the contestants, the 4-man jury, and the Hussier (yikes, that’d be me! But what was a huissier? (Presently my spell correcter suggests “hussy”. That's garce in French!).
“Your task” Laetitia informed me, “is to make sure these pirates behave! The judges must not talk to each other, and no one is to see this scroll," our capitaine said, handing me the ultra confidential document with the names of the confituriers which correspond to the numbered jars and bottles.
First abord we’re Maryline and Jean-Marc. The jam judges disappeared behind the wooden ship maquette in the kitchen. I followed, making sure the two didn’t go adrift...share notes and the like….. no worries there, the two worked as if their lives depended on it (or walk the plank! se faire jeter par-dessus bord), The judges dipped their spoons into the marmalade, the colors of which recalled the shades of the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
Next, Maryline debarked and Jean, Laetitia’s rugged co-capitaine, came on board with Jean-Marc, this time to judge the 4 wines. Between gulps of water, and much re-tasting, they carefully rate the homemade vin d’orange...
Meantime, the island savages outside were getting hungry! It was nearing 3 pm when the wine- and water-logged jury finally emerged in time for the crew to dig into lunch à la bonne franquette. Everyone brought something to bbq (hats off to Hervé and Didier who manned the flammes). In addition to the bbq fare, Michel, president of the association to protect ancient boats, brought a spicy pecorino, and Maryline, passed around her handpicked, marinated mushrooms. Miam miam!
Now that everyone was relaxed, it was time to hear the results. The hussy and the head jurist stood…Jean-Marc read the results before announcing a number... after which I searched the sheet for the corresponding confiturier winner. One by one the gagnants shot up and did a little happy dance. Each winner was rewarded by an unexpected, and sometimes quirky, cadeau on the part of our hostess-capitaine, who declared that all the jam and wine here in la CIOTAT, at Laetitia’s...will here-to-for be known as “confiture et vin de “Léticiota”.
I leave you, dear reader, with Laetitia’s colorful notes, below, which will fill you in on the juicy details. (Warning: the end of this edition gets messy, as I have copy/pasted the text message from Laetitia--originally destined for our group only--and included a google translation in English, I am in a hurry now to make lunch for my son, who's arrived unexpectedly, so please overlook the errors and just enjoy the colorful highlights.)
(P.S. follow me here on Facebook, where I will upload a video of the magouille or shenanigans, at the next chance!)
Le Concours de Confituriade et Vin d'oranges amères du Domaine de Léticiota a été récompensé sur les bases suivantes:
1- couleurs aspect
2- senteur orange.
3- texture consistance
4- amertume et sucre
5- goût traditionnel
6- Goût spécial insolite.
7 confitures en concours et 4 vins sous l' œil de notre huissier de justice des calanques Kristin Espinasse. Les fiches techniques de chaque chef ont été révélés après la proclamation des prix et aucune réclamation n'a été retenue bien que certains aient ajouté du rhum ou de l'alcool dans leur vin. Les jury pour les confitures: Jean-Marc de la cave le Vin Sobre et Maryline. Pour le vin les jurys était Jean Paquiero et Jean-Marc. Étonnant le résultat des jurys a toujours concordé dans le résultat total des meilleures confitures et vins. Pendant que le jury délibérait au coin bar résultats = Pour la confiture 1er Caroline et Pierre Yves. 2 execo du 2e prix Didier et Marilyne. 3e Laetitia et Jean. Pour le vin 1er Michel, 2e Hervé Pour le prix déco d1orange au clou de girofles pour Marie.🤝🤝🤝👏👏👏 l'extérieur un superbe barbecue cuit au feu de bois par Didier et Hervé sous la surveillance de Michel. Nous avons apprécié canard porc et gigot, merguez et saucisses... le tout dehors pour ne pas faire participer la covid. Merci à tous pour cette excellente journée un grand temps de préparation mais ça valait le coup et à refaire! La journée s'est terminée par la présence de Jean-Claude Goudon navigateur ciotaden et sa femme, le vainqueur de la Virtual Regatta du Vendée Globe de presque 1 million d'inscrits il est arrivé 1er des concurrents hier à midi après 69 jours sur son ordinateur !
Laetitia's Notes in English (translated by Google)
The Domaine de Léticiota Confituriade and Bitter Orange Wine Contest was awarded on the following bases:
1- appearance, colors
2- orange scent
3- texture, consistency
4- bitterness and sugar
5- traditional taste
6- unusual special taste
7 jams in competition and 4 wines under the watchful eye of our bailiff of the Calanques Kristin Espinasse. The technical sheets of each chef were revealed after the proclamation of the prizes and no complaint was accepted although some added rum or alcohol in their wine. The jury for the jams Jean-Marc from the cellar Vin Sobre and Maryline. For the wine, the juries were Jean Paquiero and Jean-Marc. Astonishing, the jury's results have always matched in the total result of the best jams and wines. While the jury deliberated in the bar corner results = For the 1st jam: Caroline and Pierre Yves. 2 execo of the 2nd Didier and Marilyne prize. 3rd Laetitia and Jean’s. For the 1st, Michel’s wine, 2nd Hervé. For the decoration prize of orange with cloves for Marie outside a superb barbecue cooked over a wood fire by Didier and Hervé under Michel's supervision. We enjoyed duck, pork, merguez and sausages ... all outside so as not to involve the covid. Thank you all for a great day a great preparation time but it was worth doing again! The day ended with the presence of Jean-Claude Goudon, navigator Ciotaden and his wife, the winner of the Virtual Regatta of the Vendée Globe with almost 1 million registrants, he finished 1st among the competitors yesterday at noon after 69 days on his computer!
SELECTED FRENCH VOCABULARY
AUDIO: Listeb to Jean-Marc read the vocab list
Ohé! = Ahoy!
le lieu = place, spot
une maison de plain-pied = bungalow
le concours = contest
la confiture = jam, marmalade
la magouille = shenanigans
le bigaradier = bitter orange (tree)
pil poil = smack dab
un défi = challenge
le voilier = sailboat
la grue = crane
miam miam! = yum yum!
le cadeau = gift
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety