Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Eating chez Jean-Paul
It's time to get back to the tale of Les Lavandes, our French house. I had spent the better part of five months travelling back and forth, spending a week in France working on the house followed by a week in England recuperating and preparing for the next week.
Even though there was still work to be done in some areas to bring it up to the standard we had set ourselves, the house was finally ready to receive the first guests. There were four of them – an English couple and their Canadian friends. Our confidence received quite a boost when they were fulsome in their praise of both the house and the area. They particularly liked the village restaurant. We like it as well, so much so that we make a point of eating there each time we visit Les Lavandes. In fact, while I was working on the house it was not unusual for me to eat there twice during the course of a week.
Actually, eating chez Jean-Paul can be something of a daunting experience depending on how many others are eating there and what mood he is in. We have come to expect the unexpected and quite look forward to the evening, trying to anticipate what form the entertainment will take. I'm not sure that one experience really comes under the category of entertainment. I arrived to find both Jean-Paul and Mariette clearing a drain which runs across the garden. I sincerely hoped they both washed thoroughly before preparing my dinner, but I suffered no ill effects.
On another evening Mrs S and I walked in just before eight o'clock. It is quite usual for the restaurant to be completely empty of people and for one to have to go on a manhunt to find Jean-Paul, which can take twenty minutes or more as he could be anywhere in the village and Mariette will usually be at home. But on this particular evening, Jean-Paul was behind the bar.
"Do you want to eat?" he shouted.
"Well, err, yes, please. If that would be possible."
"Have you booked?"
I sheepishly admitted what Jean-Paul knew full well: I had not booked.
Jean-Paul considered this as he gazed around his empty restaurant trying to work out where he could fit us in. Finally, he indicated a table were we could sit.
"Or you could sit there if you prefer. Or there, or there."
Apart from us, the restaurant remained empty for the whole evening.