We arrived in Marseille at around 9:30 pm after a 5.5 hour drive from Barcelona. We were hungry and decided to get Pizza – as it turns out – there are a significant number of pizza restaurants in France – well – sort of.
We found a pretty square downtown, with very old buildings on either side, a large statue of something or other in the center, and an outside dining area with pizza. We waited near the front of the seating area and a frazzled waitress greeted us in French and said something that I interpreted to be “sit”.
We found ourselves nestled between three robust woman having ice cream, a vague single young man smoking sinisterly, and five college guys smoking Mary Jane two tables down.
Well, we asked to move of course, but there were no closer tables to the five guys, so we began to read the menu – in French.
In time, a long time, the waitress arrived, in a rush, out of breath, and carrying other items. She said things in French. So I said things in French too.
“Bon nuit, Je voudrais un pizza sans fromage et avec jambon et …”
She then cut me off and in French told me that you cannot just “choose” toppings! No one “chooses” toppings – you just choose a pizza. She then pointed to the list of pizzas on the menu.
“Mais – Je voudrais un pizza sans fromage et avec jambon” I repeated gingerly.
She looked annoyed and took my menu. You will have jambon she said in French. Jeremy, apparently, was having anchovies.
As she tried to rush away, I yelled “vin” at her. She turned and asked what size and color in French – I answered in French and she ran away.
Moments later she returned with some of the best rouge (for Jeremy) et blanc (for me) wine we have had yet, and as she left, I said “Vous avez un pain” (Do you have bread?). She said of course, and then went away, never to return with bread. Apparently, they have bread, but I asked the wrong question.
Much time passed, wine was consumed, and the five guys to our right were still smoking. We felt very relaxed. Then the pizza came. Mine had ham and olives and sundried tomatoes and Jeremy’s had anchovies and mushrooms, and olives, and artichokes.
These were the pizzas that were decided on for us – and they were delicious – and no cheese J
In France, you don’t actually get to select what you want because it is presumptuous. You will get what you are given, and of course, it will be delicious.
Finally, after eating both entire pizzas and finishing all the wine, we thought it a good time to drive. In France, there are no 4-way stops. There are just intersections. If you feel that you want to enter, you do. You can beep if you like, or you can speed through and hope to get lucky. There are almost no stop signs and those that exist are ignored for being inconvenient.
People do sometimes stop at red lights, but generally only if someone has taken the initiative to stop in front of them – likely a tourist. Jeremy drives fast and beeps at all the other French drivers – we are so local. We have run at least 3 red lights, but only because we did not see them.
We then arrived at our home away and passed out.
The next morning, the beauty of our home was breathtaking, of course, and we had our breakfast outside.
Then, we traveled into town to see what we could find, and to buy wine and bread which we do every day. We did this by car as we are staying very high on a hill, and the walk is a bit too far. So, Jeremy drives fast down small side streets, beeping, saying alors, and scrapping his tires on the curbs. My job is to locate a bread shop by yelling “bread!”.
So, we set off.
In time, bread was found, and we pulled up onto the side walk and parked illegally like everyone else does. The goal is to get out of the breadshop before the honking from blocked cars attracts the ticketing police (who are very disinterested and rarely around).
So there we were, as usual, faced with beautiful treats and cakes and cookies that I cannot eat. And so, as I have done for many years, I repeat my mantra…
“Bonjour, vous avez une treats (I point) sans lait et sans beurre. Je suis allergique aux lait et beurre.”
(Hello, do you have treats without milk and butter. I am allergic to milk and butter)
Generally, in response to this question we are asked to leave. But, instead, on this magic day, the lady said “oui”.
So I thought for sure she did not understand me. So, I said things again. She then said yes again, and pointed to all the treats and chocolates and pastries – all dairy free.
Of course, this caused me to hyperventilate, grab my chest, and look around for signs that I was in a dream. But I was not – it was a dairy free French bakery!!!
I ordered everything.
Well, I know what you’re thinking. This kind of eating requires naked French yoga.
And so why France you ask? I can think of no reasons why not.