Well it took me ’till 10:30 to futz around doing this that and the other thing, then write and publish that piece, but afterward I did as I said. I was a good housewife, I did the shopping in the sun with the two youngest children; chatted with fellow Auvergnats, kissed small bronzed cheeks, selected aubergines, courgettes, butternut, onions. Parsley and chicken for my husband, as per his request; he would make tajine the next night, tajine which we find an endearing name for a dish, tajine, because it combines our two names. He imitates a recipe from a favourite local restaurant.
I would make vegetarian burritos that night, as is the usual for Fridays. I bought him a dozen IPA beer. He loves IPA, but doesn’t like to buy it for himself (it’s €2/ 355 ml bottle, vs 50c for a 500 ml can of Pilsner).
I made the cake with a rich cream cheese icing, it took carefully perusing through the immense dairy sections of two shops to find the cream cheese. Every year I forget where and how to find it. The cream cheese is not a common thing in French cuisine, it’s called fromage à tartiner (spreading cheese) fromage frais (fresh cheese) or sometimes only called by its brand name, and it mostly comes individually wrapped in small squares or triangles, for children’s lunches. There is only one brand name available locally that carries enough fat to work for icing, that is “Kiri” (probably a play on the name of an older, leaner brand, “La vache qui rit,” which means “the cow who laughs,” which is ironic since cows don’t laugh much in general, but cows used for making milk for humans must laugh even less — they have their calves taken away, sometimes to be raised as veal; I have seen it at a local dairy). The cream cheese must be close to 30% fat to work for this kind of icing. I have half a half-lifetime of experience with these things. I have made at least 20 carrot cakes in February; at least one per year, half of those in France.
It was his birthday and I know him well, or at least I think I do but thoughts are deceiving. Men are always hard to buy for, but a man who appears to have all he needs, and to want little, is all the harder (and more attractive). I know he likes a few things, he likes beer and breasts and buttocks and sex and beaches and oceans and lakes and blue skies with clouds and wood and good food and technology and books. Damnit he likes books. Why did I not get him a book? So now instead of writing I am on Amazon and on a whim searching “beer books” (since, I think prudishly to myself, I damn-well won’t be getting him a sex book) and what do I see but an hour-glass on a cover with beer filtering through it and the title “Going For a Beer: Selected Short Fictions” (English Edition) de Robert Coover (Auteur)” (I have French Amazon) and I think what might this drivel be, probably some self-published author like me, but there is the “Look Inside” feature so I go see. And ever so delightedly… for this is divine literature. It’s like Kerouac without the editor-enforced paragraph breaks it’s like Hemingway if he could have written about sex in an elevator it’s about love infusion throughout all the life he encounters it’s the love of his wife and life and a brother and bringing timbers for boats
And missing full-stops.
And fairy tales…
And I don’t see much about beer (although a little about wine)… And I become a little jealous of this present for my husband since now I want it for myself. But I have ever-so-stupidly put myself on another book-buying ban. But I hit the “Acheter” (buy) button anyway (since it’s a present, which doesn’t count of course) and what do you know it’s brand new, recommended by the New York Times, you can only buy the print version on pre-order and it won’t be out ’till March, just around my birthday! (“Doesn’t that mean it’s meant for me?” I think selfishly). But you can buy the Kindle version now. But how do you gift a Kindle version? Here’s how:
So here we have it, deer friends, or rather I meant dear friends (or shall I say beer friends?) — the perfect (I hope!) present for your favourite beer(/wine?), boobs and books-loving hunk of a beautiful man. Or woman. Or perhaps just for your gorgeous, self-loving self, you lover of great literature.
*Auvergnats are dwellers in the Auvergne, a region in the south-centre of France.
**Edit: 1) That Kindle gifting method did not work for me!!! So now it is on my Kindle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 2)This book came out February 2018!!! Not 2019. Preorders required in France I guess
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. Thank you for reading. ❤︎