The Warm-Up Act

Before We get Started

it's time to



 In the last edition I was telling you about house-hunting in France and I can report full success in this arena. Before you all throw your computers at the wall while shouting that he's become a flamboyant little show-off; desist and let me finish. I hope that these occasional forays into French wine-tasting might be put to good use in producing a series of article that fit in with the style of writing that is purely Winefullness.

 At the moment, as I write this, I've discovered quite a few things from these visits across The Channel (or should I say La Manche). The first thing is that if you are a vegetarian then your food groups usually consist of cheese, bread or omelettes. Now I love cheese and bread, but if I eat too much it is not too good for me. I can only think that this would be a nightmare if you can't take your gluten.

 With omelettes, I think the French excel, and it seems that even some out of the way cafe cook can whip up the sort of offering that might cost you quite a few quid if it was delivered to your table at one of London's better eating establishments. I don't know where they get off charging so much, and think that perhaps the cost is mainly down to the accompanying salad that has barely shaken hands with a dressing and is limper than an anemic before a blood transfusion.

 If you think this through then it can get a little boring playing culinary tennis between bread and cheese, and omelettes. Sure, I can get a pizza that seems to be covered in a tsunami of interesting cheeses, but I would love it if French cuisine started to grow bolder with its 'veggie' offerings.

 Another of my observations is about the French love of 'gesture'. While most English villages possess a 'village idiot' (usually a man who drinks real ale, loves to show you his Morris Dancing moves and has less teeth than a two month old baby) the French have gone one better, and I would like to introduce you to the French equivalent; the gesture artist!

 I don't mean those Marcel Marceau types who are either stuck in a box, walking against the wind or carrying very heavy imaginary suitcases. What I'm talking about is those locals who inhabit all the bar stools when you walk in to a small village hostelry. You can often tell them by their chunky-knit sweaters and a cigarette drooping from the side of the mouth (no vaping here please). To see them in full action, all one needs to do is to ask a simple question such as directions or bar recommendations, and after the initial twitch from the cigarette they tilt their head and then with a quick shrug of their shoulders they are off. They point, they sway, they make gestures that everybody understands, except you, and if you're really lucky they will indicate how much of an idiot you are for not understanding them.

 I once met a French 'gesture' artist who related the results of an election with nothing more than a raised eyebrow, a single finger and a mouth whose lips seemed to be magnetically opposed. Who said that French theatre ended with Molière?

 The other thing I've found out about France, even though I've know it for a long time and it's good to have it confirmed, is just how good French wine actually is. I'm not just talking about the First Growth's of Bordeaux, or those cheeky little numbers one finds in the Rhone, Burgundy or Champagne. I'm talking about those finds one makes when ordering a glass of something with a meal or just to taste something local. Hopefully some of these will get an airing in future editions of Winefullness Magazine.