I have a French surname, Malherbe, which translates to something along the lines of “weed” or “bad grass” in English … But, despite the fact that I have French ancestors on both sides of the family (Malherbe and de Villiers) I think I may have lost the culture somewhat – apart from the love of a good red wine perhaps …
But the French really are an interesting bunch. They see the world in a very different light to anyone else I’ve met! And they are anything but shy.
Like today at lunch, where I was eating with fork upturned, like we do in South Africa. “Why do you eat like that,” one of my friends asked.
“Because in South Africa we were taught that it showed good manners,” I replied.
“Well, it’s wrong,” was his response. “The French designed the fork, and our way is right. Anyway, how is one supposed to eat petit pois with your fork like that. It makes no sense!”
How does one respond to that? And then a few nights ago another friend, who has been working in a hospital emergency ward told of a man who arrived and said that he needed help … urgently.
When she asked what the problem was, he explained (completely seriously) that he had been doing the housework and had, um, burned his private parts with some cleaning liquid. Now how does one respond to that? What was he thinking? What do people get up to in the privacy of their own homes?!? But before they could ask, he continued, “And I need you to sort me out as soon as possible. My wife is away, and I’m expecting my mistress tomorrow …”
Then, at supper a few nights ago we were discussing French wines, and the conversation somehow switched to taking communion at church. Apparently many churches here still use wine for the communion (while some use grape juice, like we do in South Africa). While most buy the cheapest wine possible, in the Bordeaux area parishes often have access to only the best vintages for their holy sacrament.
The story goes that the cup was passed to the first man in the pew, who took a big swig, then another and then another. Finally, crestfallen, he turned to the deacon who had been serving the communion and exclaimed, “I’m so embarrassed, but I just can’t finish it …”
Last night, an argument ensued around the dinner table about whether the bread spread Nutella was male or female … I rest my case.