Saturday, February 11, 2012

When did you learn about France, ladies, and François Truffaut


It was a very what have they done to the rain sort of thing, wasn't it. In a dining room of mine I kept an orig-inal cinéma poster, mounted on linen at the Bibliothèque Nationale; the face of Cargol in Truffaut's L'enfant sauvage, my touchstone of merciful surprise for guys. But by then I loved Truffaut so much, I had less fear. Billi bi, the absolutely death-defying soup of mussel stock and cream, or a classic sauce Nantua of penetratingly true lobster, remain enthralling, batteries of revelation included. Ladies, at the same time, invariably come too fleetingly for comprehension. I share Doinel's bafflement, more than I think. 

On a wintry weekend I am glad to be at home to groom Whit and allow the house to assimilate a ragoût de boeuf from Van Gogh's Auberge Rivoux, simmering as slowly and vinously as the law allows. I want to see Small Change again, and know the triumph of the boy with the chocolate milk. Mine will probably be the mourvèdre from Olney's beloved Domaine Tempier, but I'll smile for that priceless vision of independent delectation, critique, satisfaction; the endearing folly. I never could learn a thing about France that I could put behind me; I leave that to the French. To England I owe my DNA, to France I owe my learning. A legacy of chance and natural choice, like any.

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