Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm A Little Thirsty

I think that it is safe for me to assume that seven months living abroad in France turned me into an alcoholic.

In the States, I was the dork who waited patiently until she was legally 21 to enjoy her first drink. Before that moment, I shunned many an opportunity from certain friends and colleagues to enjoy the liquid contraband. On my birthday, I went to a restaurant with my mother and my grandmother. The waitress asked if we wanted drinks.

"I'd like a Mango Daquiri, please," I exclaimed, sweaty hand nervously gripping the plastic drivers license. I waited for her to ask for it.

She never did.

A couple of years later, I was in France. I learned that in this country, the legal drinking age is 18 and, if you are 16, your legal guardian can purchase a drink for you. No one bats an eye. It is also perfectly acceptable to allow children from 12 onward to try a couple of sips of wine every now and then. This would be considered scandalous in the U.S., that children be exposed to alcohol at such an early age, but not doing so would be inappropriate in France. It seems that any good Frenchman has red wine imbedded into his genetic structure.

While France has a rich wine culture, Frenchmen and Frenchwomen alike enjoy a good beer. Sometimes it is once a week. is a few bottles per day. I am normally not a big beer fanatic (mostly because Americans perceive it to be a manly beverage), but I did learn how to appreciate guzzling down a blonde and even a brune. The French call their bières based on the color of the liquid. I absolutely love to drink une bière blanche.

However, I think my preference lies in the apéritifs, the drink that comes before a meal. In Dijon, I relished drinking both the kir, a drink based on Aligoté wine and blackcurrant liqueur (crème de cassis), and the kir royal (champagne with crème de cassis). I admired the scarlet hue the wine took when it married with the syrup-like nectar. If I were Chanoine Kir, the man after whom the drink is based, I would be extremely flattered and ask for seconds.

Perhaps "alcoholic" is not the correct term to use. I still have not been inebriated to the point that I pass out and lay spread-eagle on the ground. Not like this:

I did come close to being like that, though.

During Christmas, one of my friends invited me to join her in the South of France, and I opted to make some Mojitos, a concoction that mixes mint, lime juice, sugar, rum and some seltzer water. Since I did not have any seltzer water, I thought that it would be a good idea to replace it by doubling the amount of rum to the drink...

I sat down on the floor upon the plush carpet, next to the coffee table and supported my back against the couch. I drank my mojito in three minutes. Then I tried to get up from the floor to sit on the couch.

I fell down.

I tried to stand up. My legs did not obey. I felt as if my feet had turned into cement.

I remember that my body had a sudden sensation of heat and that I began to giggle maniacally, cupping my head in my hands. Since I had never had anything similar manifest itself over me in this manner, I began to ask aloud "What is this? What is going on? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

I eventually made it onto the couch only after I forced my arms to lift my lead body. It took a couple of minutes to achieve this Olympian feat.

The drink had rendered my friend into the same state of felicity. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

Still, I was not drunk. My brain functioned and processed information normally, albeit it commanded my vocal cords to interject the odd laugh every now and then.

I can assure you that when I came back from France exactly 29 days ago, I brought back a few bottles of some of my favorite things: Chardonnay, Crème de Cassis, Muscat de Rivesaltes, even a Crémant. I'm rapidly going through my bottle of Muscat. I suppose I will have an internal tug-of-war when I finally pour the last few drops into a cup. Should I drink it or should I save it? After all, I cannot find this here.

Yet it is simply too delicious to pass up!

The link above is to a cheesy and oh-so-earwormable song that I learned in France.

"Chef, un p'tit verre, on a soif!" I want a little glass. I am thirsty. :-P

Barb the French Bean

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Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb