So when I come back, like Mother Hubbard and her poor old dog, the cupboard is bare. And the refrigerator even more so.
Which means that one of the very first things I do is to go on a grocery run. This is what that looks like.
Late morning and it’s starting to get hungry at my place. I’ve eaten the half baguette I bought yesterday, upon arrival, to tide me over. So it’s off on a Food Run.
First stop - because it’s farthest downhill - is the G20 supermarket. To Americans, it probably looks like Grandma’s supermarket, and not very super at that. More modest than super. But it packs a lot into a small area. When I get to the check-out counter, the girl looks at my caddy and asks “For home delivery?”
“How did you know?” I query.
“One look at your caddy was enough.” And yes, it is pretty full. I take the frozen spinach and the half-dozen eggs and leave the rest. I write my address on the sales slip, along with the code to the door on the street and the location of the apartment - ground floor, back of the garden - and slip the lady a tip, just in case she beats me home, which has been known to happen. (A tip isn’t required, but I feel it’s only fair. I live sufficiently uphill to merit a euro or two.)
Then I start to retrace my steps. I’ve bought a chicken and mayo sandwich for the young guy sleeping rough with his dog, but by the time I’ve finished at G20 he’s gone off somewhere, leaving behind his bedding and beggar’s bowl. Probably gone to get a coffee to counter the cold and use their restroom. I leave the sandwich for him, which I know he shares with his dog.
First stop: the shop selling specialties from the Massif Central region of France. I shake the owner’s hand, as French etiquette requires between people you frequent on a fairly daily basis. She asks me how the States was, adding that the frigid temperatures and frozen Niagara Falls have been on the news here. (It’s a comment I hear in almost every store.) I buy a big wedge of her hard cheese from Cantal, a few slices of tangy salami with cracked pepper on the outside, a piece of boudin (blood sausage - I know, it sounds horrible but it’s delicious) and a package of lentilles vertes, those tiny, wonderfully delicious, dark green lentils from central France’s extinct volcano region. Oh, and a thick slice of her wonderful pâté with morels, which will be dinner. All traditional products made by artisans.
Second stop: the flower shop to buy a yellow primevère (primrose) to give the windowsill a bit of color amidst all the green plants, plus a hyacinth for the fragrance. The seller tells me the blue ones are the most fragrant - which I didn’t know - and it’s sprouting out of a bulb so it can be planted in the garden when it’s past its prime. Plus a bouquet of tulips, tied together with a bit of raffia... just because I'm tired of winter.
By the time I climb the hill, I find the two boxes of groceries waiting in front of my door. It’s a good thing I left a tip when I paid for the goods. After all, there’s quite a slope from there to my door, not to mention the ten stone steps. Not easy to do all that with a shopping caddy, even if I’m on the ground floor.
I have enough time to unload the boxes and grill the steak for lunch before it starts raining. Lucky I went out when I did and finished while it was only cold and not yet wet.
In the middle of the afternoon, Samry braves the elements to deliver my fruit and vegetables.
The fridge is full, the fruit bowl also. Now all I have to do is cook and eat.
There are worse lots in life.
P.S. That was Wednesday. On Saturday, I looked around for the tulips... and realized I'd left them somewhere along the way. I went over my route in my mind. Traced my steps back to the wine shop - maybe - and asked them if I'd left a bouquet of tulips behind. "Oh, those were yours? Oops! I gave them to a young lady. She was very pleased." At least they didn't let them wither.
So I bought another bouquet.