Janine Gdalia

May 15, 2010 § 3 Comments

Crazy beautiful tomatoes from Vauvert market

The residence I’m at is more isolated than most.  Where with others you can emerge from your hut for lunch with some twenty to fifty others, here, above the countryside offices of Au Diable Vauvert (who are extraordinarily cool, I’m discovering, and among other books, translate graphic novels and folks like David Foster Wallace into French), there are two studio apartments, one of them occupied by yours truly.

My urbanite anxieties have been abated by the company and friendship of my co-resident, Janine Gdalia.  I wish I had taken photos of her and the amazing dinner she made for us, but alas.  She’s a 66 year old lady, a poet living in Montpelier, and she had graciously undertaken the task of knocking on my door a couple of times a day to see how I was getting on.  Three days ago, she drove us into the nearby town of Vauvert, to check out the market.  We bought vegetables, baguette (which I carried under my arm like a proper Frenchie), veal and wine, which later that night, she turned into a feast, amazing given our studio-living limitations.  I really admired her quiet insistence of having several courses, even in the middle of nowheresville.  We dined for hours, even through a thunderstorm power outage, talking about religion and politics.  She also explained to me the basic courses of French dining.

1. The “entree” — in this case, steamed asparagus with a mustard-based sauce
2. The “plat” — in this case, a delicious and hearty veal stew with vegetables
3. The “salade” — some dark greens with aged chevre and aforementioned sauce
4. The dessert — a humble but wildly sweet, juicy, delicious and in-season melon

All accompanied by gallons of local wine.  Magnifique!  I took a little bougie to my dark room and fell straight to bed.

Fresh goat cheese with herbes de Provence, from Vauvert market

Look at those beautiful slashes!

The next day, she took me back into Vauvert for all the festivities associated with the feast of the Ascension (of Christ, that is).  There was a running of the bulls through the streets, flanked by horsemen (and some hot horsewomen).  Everyone and their children were out and about, drinking beer and wine and cassis and some weird anise liquor, all before noon.

Check out the blond!

French youths getting dragged along by the bull. Vauvert.

Janine wrapped up her bit of the residency, and left today.  So sad!  But I shall see her next week for some literary festivities in Nimes, along with the folks at Au Diable Vauvert.  As it turns out, they’re also masters of planning literary events in the region.  Lucky me!


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