Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Un petit tour de France et un grand scene

 Munson, Peter, Janice and Jill    

Peter took us on a short walking tour of the centre de ville, introducing us to some of his neighbours both French and expat while picking up some odds and ends from the grocer, butcher and charcouterie. The butcher has been asked for some bones for Munson, but this will take a while. I see from the attention he takes with each customer, filleting their exact requirement directly from a side of beast on his cutting table, that he is quite the artesan. I suspect that from his devotion to anatomical detail and the waiting times involved, that if Peter ever needs to have a hip replacement he could do worse than find himself on Mr. Rousseau’s operating slab.

As we leave with a carefully wrapped selection of bones, Peter greets Drew, an English lady of his acquaintance. She says of Munson “look at his paws! he’s standing in the third position!”

After hearing that we were moving to this region, she pronounces “France is so good for dogs, you can take them everywhere.”

- Yes, I spent two months in Paris with another dog. Bondi walked through the Galleries Lafayette and caused quite a stir.

- I’m sure it was the fur. Quite a few hats in one of those.

Before the day got too warm, Peter guided us on a little circuit of the neighbouring villages: Gondrin, Courrensan, Roques, Beaucaire, Ayguetinte, Castéra-Verduzan, and then Saint-Puy where he’d had a house for many years. Rolling hills hinted at the Pyrenees to the south, all were laced with sunflowers. In Saint-Puy, we met Janice and Jill outside Star Galerie where we were pressed with cool glasses of rosé or bowls of water.

Peter prepared another royal repast for lunch –  a cold ratatouille soup that I found unable to resist extra helpings of, accompanied by smoked fish, warm potatoes and a nutty cheese. Quite filled up, I took Munson for a run in the big park by the river. It was lovely to find such a large expanse of green open space without signs warning people not to enjoy themselves in. Munson found the green water quite irresistible and traced lazy circles near the lower end of a weir and then pulled himself out for a loping run on the grass shaking water behind him like a runaway lawn sprinkler.

A fleuve runs though itMunson chases himselfcast away

In the centre de ville I stopped at the Cafe des Sports for refreshments. The lady serving at the ice-cream seemed a bit dubious when I asked for “un peu de vanille dans une tasse pour mon chien”. She found a little plastic bowl for it, and brought that with my refreshments to a table in the square. As she placed the bowl at Munson’s feet, I said “non, non un cuille s’il vous plait”. Not blinking, she brought back a spoon for me, and I began to serve Munson small morsels of ice-cream, which he delicately licked off the spoon. Finally our server roared with laughter, and our table fell into shadow as people gathered to watch Munson slowly making his way through his treat. A young mother carried her 2-3 year old son over to show him “le chien traineau” and asked if he was safe to pat. I smiled and nodded, and the boy reached over to stroke Munson’s head, extending further and further away from his mother’s grasp till he was  half-inverted, grappling with Munson’s neck as if he were a mountaineer attempting a particularly hirsute ascent.

Back at the condominium, I roused Peter from his nap. “You’ve been gone a long time!”

- Yes Peter, we’ve been making a scene.

- Oh good.

avuncular with raspberries learning to beg for guinea fowl

Peter has (and I quote, typing as fast as I can, although I don’t think he realises I am taking dictation) “cooked you vichyssoise, followed by guinea fowl with raspberries and an absolutely perfect white peach, and chilled white wine, and you know you don’t have to lift a finger and you’ll be treated like a king, or at least a prince and all you have to do is show your tattoos around.”  (Harkening back to an exposition I gave to Janice this morning after she noticed the Ithaka fragment on my right forearm.)


Munson was given a demoiselle de canard (duck’s carcass) for dinner but gave up about two thirds of the way into it. It’s likely that he’s been influenced by his new round of culinary instruction. After his kitchen help in Cornwall, he’s apprenticed himself to Peter’s kitchen, and sits patiently, following quite closely as Peter describes each step in his recipes.


  1. Oh to have seen THAT scene!

    Khyra is quite spoon savvy as well!

    All this fun and it has only just begun!

  2. Love it. Sounds like you have the best host you could ask for.