After trying--what folly!--to live in other places, Peter Mayle is back in his beloved Provence. He celebrates his homecoming by sharing with us a whole new feast of adventures, discoveries, hilarities, and culinary treats, liberally seasoned with a joyous mix of Gallic characters. The pauses for refreshment include an unforgettable meal in a converted gas station, a rendezvous with the very best bouillabaisse, and visits to eventful weekly markets.
But there is life after lunch, and we also discover a school for noses in Haute Provence, a gardener who grows black tomatoes, the secret of the oversexed butcher, a celebration of Alowine (Halloween) Provence-style, and the genetic effects of two thousand years of fois gras. There is a memorable tour of Marseille, a comprehensive lesson on olive oil, a search for the perfect cork-screw, and invaluable recommendations for splendid local cheeses, wines, honey, bread, country restaurants, and off-the-beaten-track places to stay.
Never has Peter Mayle written with more unabashed pleasure about his heaven on earth.
I think it was the sight of a man power-washing his underpants that really brought home the differences, cultural and otherwise, between the old world and the new.
It was a cold, still morning in early winter, and the pulsing thumpthump, thumpthump of a high-pressure hose echoed through the village. Getting closer to the sound, it was possible to see, over a garden wall, a laundry line totally devoted to gentlemen's underwear in a stimulating assortment of colors. The garments were under attack, jerking and flapping under the force of the water jet like hanging targets in a shooting gallery. Standing some distance away, out of ricochet range, was the aggressor, in cap and muffler and ankle-high zippered carpet slippers. He had adopted the classic stance of a soldier in combat, feet spread apart, shooting from the hip, a merciless hail of droplets raking back and forth. The underpants didn't stand a chance.
Only a few days before, my wife and I and the ...
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