Cuisses de Grenouilles
I almost thought to spare you this tale, but I happened to let slip to Jayne that it existed, and she has been after me to share the details. They’re unpleasant details, I must warn you.
See, you remember the snail test, right? If not, go read my book ten more times right this second! Goodness. What does a girl have to do to get her every word emblazoned onto everyone else’s memory around here? Say “Let them eat cake”?
Well, Jean-Charles has been nurturing plans to one-up himself for some time now, concerning those snails. I’ve made it through quite a few stays at their house without him getting around to it. And this time I thought I had once again managed to duck my Jean-Charles fate.
After all, Jean-Charles was BUSY. And, in fact, thoughts of how busy he was and why make me realize I’m telling this story all backwards. I should be telling you WHY we went to France this Christmas first.
I will have to work my way up to it. Maybe the beginning of this tale will be its grand finale, kind of like Memento.
Meanwhile, I am telling you the story of the end of it, the last day.
The last day was supposed to be my only day in Paris this trip. What this actually turned out to mean in French friends-and-family parlance is that we drove into Paris, spent six hours sitting at a café table, and drove back out.
Trying to keep a toddler distracted while sitting still in a tiny, tight Parisian café for six hours is not as much fun as you might at first imagine.
Speaking of cafés, a very strange thing is happening in France, in connection with all the smoking bans coming into place: people are actually growing conscious about smoking!!!
For the first time in the history of my relationship with France, the people we were with looked at the small child with us and Actually Conscientiously Asked For THE NON-SMOKING SECTION.
wait for it…
Sat down in it and promptly lit up cigarettes, forgetting already the logic behind their request.
I wonder if the waiter, who had done some juggling to find us a spot, fought the urge to kill or it was just me.
But no homicide occurred, and we made our way from the café table to the next table, the last dinner at Jean-Charles & Claudine’s house.
Where–Jean-Charles had prepared:
CUISSES DE GRENOUILLE.
Frog legs are an extraordinary thing. France is a country where pretty nearly the only food you can touch with your hands is bread, after all. Remember–the bourgeois are capable of peeling & eating a banana with knife and fork. Very neat, very proper, very elegant. And then they decide to eat FROG LEGS, minute fragile things covered in butter and garlic that you are supposed to pick up with your fingers by the minute butter-soaked hips and suck the flesh off of.
Really, kind of like barbecued ribs. But with that special exception française. And also, with none of those big rolls of paper towels we get at barbecue places here–just a dainty napkin no one else seemed to get very dirty.
I had to use three.
How did I like it?
Well. It is a very, very strange sensation to feel minuscule frog feet in your mouth, let me tell you. Almost as strange as feeling a snail eyespot. Possibly stranger. I kept thinking of that Kermit movie where he was being pursued by villains after his legs.
And…see…NO, it doesn’t taste like chicken. It tastes like it’s own self. The closest cousin I can think of is shrimp; it’s different but a little bit of some similar flavor and texture.
But…I don’t get it. I would take barbecued ribs any day. Or one of my brother’s beef briskets.
Mia, on the other hand, who pretty much will not eat meat except for some tender chicken, LOVED them.
This thrilled and delighted her grandmother Claudine (who doesn’t want to be called grandmother because of the age thing, so her name is Moumoune) to complete bits. It was proof that Mia was not lost to America beyond all repair, that her French side was still alive and kicking.
So….what did YOU eat for Christmas? Anything challenging?