A few days ago, I wrote about an elegant meal to which we were invited while we were in France. We also received an invitation to stay with Claire and Gerard in Brittany. It was a wonderful visit where we were once again treated to incredible hospitality.
While our first hosts, Francoise and Herve, were somewhat bourgeois, our second hosts exuded a more countercultural vibe. When we arrived, we met the hosts, their daughter, and her two children. Then it turned out that their son, his girlfriend, and two more people were set to arrive, making 11 people; 9 of us slept upstairs.
Claire was unfazed by all this. We arrived back from a day of exploring to find dinner already in process. We are having ratatouille, said Claire. In French, of course. I realized that the huge vat of ratatouille--which consisted of zucchini, onion, and tomato--no eggplant or peppers--had been made from the giant zucchini we saw Gerard cut from the plant earlier that morning. With that we had basmati rice. Bread, of course.
This was followed by some goat cheese from the area where Claire's mother lives.
For dessert we had small bowls of ice cream festooned with a half a peach and a dollop of home-made jam. It seems everyone makes jam in France.
This meal was extremely easy to produce and also quite inexpensive, proving that labor and expense are not necessary for wonderful dining and interesting conversation.
Unfortunately, my French was in a decline (though I did try), so I relaxed by talking to the grandchildren, who thought my French was just fine. The grumpy friend of our hosts' son who was silent for virtually the entire time surprised us by uttering a sentence in excellent English.
Mr FS was explaining that he first learned French when his father had a Fulbright in Paris in 1968. His family witnessed the famous student strike that spring--and lots of other strikes as well. When Mr. FS paused for a bit, Grumpy Friend said "Did you smoke weed in 1968?" That was the only sentence she said in our presence.