I hope that you and yours are well.
It’s a little gloomy here in France to be honest but you probably all know this already so I won’t dwell on that but on the joyful things I find in life. Like Bread Man.
Bread Man delivers to lots of little shop-less villages and hamlets in the Seven Valleys, where I live in the far north of France. Three times a week, come rain, sun or snow, we hear the sound of his van hooter echoing around the hills as he stops outside homes bringing baguettes and big round country loaves, croissants and irresistible cakes. He’s a lifeline for older villagers who don’t drive and saves all of us from having to get in our cars to drive to a boulangerie.
For some time now I’ve been teaching Bread Man to speak English so he can help his daughter with her homework. A two minute lesson a couple of times a week has made an enormous difference though he still can’t produce his h’s and he has trouble saying beach (sounds like bitch) and sheet (I guess you know what that sounds like).
This week we’ve been sharing Christmas traditions. His kids leave wooden clogs under the tree for Santa to put gifts in, my kids have sack-like stockings. His family enjoy their main meal on Christmas Eve and it can go on for 6 hours. The buche de Noel, yule log cake, is a must. We have our main meal on Christmas Day and set fire to a Christmas pudding with brandy. That made him laugh.
I told him about the Christmas custom of sweet mince pies, a tradition that dates back to the middle ages and was believed to bring people good luck for the coming year.
Well that stopped him in his tracks.
“A cake of good luck… tac tac tac” he sounded a bit like a befuddled duck when he said this. It’s a sound French people make when they’re thinking things through, or reaching the end of something, like a thought process. Nobody French seems to know what it means and if you tell them that they just said it they will either look surprised and laugh or deny it.
The French are a superstitious bunch. They have numerous beliefs including not placing a baguette upside down on a table because it means you invite famine into your house and if you click glasses together, you must look each other in the eye or you will be unlucky in love for 7 years.
“I like this cake of good luck” said Bread Man. He had a gleam in his eyes, especially when I told him that some people believe that the more of these little cakes you eat, the more luck you get.
“I will make good luck pies next week. I be a pie-oneer…”
Bread Man made a joke in English! My work is done…
Wishing you and yours well and Bread Man says “ Appy Ollidays”….
Bisous from my little pig sty
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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