La Corrida à Nîmes

May 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

La corrida. (Also, the toreros are unspeakably sexy.)

1. Of course I can see that it’s utterly savage and barbaric and a total PETA nightmare.  However dangerous or powerful the taureau, it’s not an equal competition between him and the taurero and his team equipped with various stabbing instruments.  It is utterly horrifying when the long dagger slides all the way into taureau between the shoulders and he collapses and rolls over in a puddle of blood and everyone erupts into cheers.  It’s also pretty horrifying when the taurero loses his footing for a split second and ends up tossed around between the taureau’s horns, falling to the ground face down, covering his head with his hands as a last, pathetic attempt to buy some time until ten people run out to try and get the taureau away from him.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say I saw the corrida in Nîmes not one, not two but four times, and on more than one occasion was roused to my feet in a standing ovation after a particularly graceful string of passes.  I know that the grace is false, and that it’s at the humiliation and frustration of the taureau (but also the grave risk of the taurero).  I can’t explain it.  The corridas were amazing and addictive, and I’d love to see one where it’s just the taureau and the torero, no picadors, and no savage murder at the end.  That would be an amazing battle and I would pay everyday to see it — in the late morning, getting super tanned, having a cold beer in the stands.  (The other subtle highlight for me, was being offered a hash cigarette by a certain publishing celebrity who shall remain nameless and who said, upon inquiring if I smoke, “Wow.  You are great woman.  You were before.  But more now.”  I never smoke anymore, but sharing a spliff with her during the corrida as she kept leaning in to wetly whisper stuff about tauromachie techniques was a memorable occasion.)

The view from the cheap seats of Les Arenes.

2. Nîmes is lovely, and Nîmes during La Feria is magical, and La Feria when you know the right people (particularly organizers of literary events and their adorable, young, warm interns, is a blast.  Last Friday night, after the corrida, there was a very conceptual reading sponsored by Au Diable, of all the stories shortlisted for Le Prix Hemingway, awarded to the best short story featuring the culture of bullfighting.  The readings took place down in the chicaros of Les Arènes — that is, the narrow, sawdusty tunnels under the coliseum (one of the most imporant in the French bullfighting world) where the taureaux are kept prior to the corrida and from where, through a network of moveable doors and tunnels, they are directed into the arena.  The following day, the reading took place again, this time among the stands, just before the beginning of the evening’s corrida.  The captive audience of bullfighting enthusiasts was slightly less receptive to high literature.

Beautiful Carolle, who chatted me up. Subtext in French, for me, is impossible.

3. I was also floored by the warmth and hospitality of young Au Diable intern, Arthur, and his ladyfriend, Zoé, who took me into their home so I wouldn’t have to haul ass between Vauvert and Nîmes during the Feria.  They accompanied me through the parties in the streets; we ate millions upon millions of kebab sandwiches with french fries.  We went to the Jardins de la Fontaine, where we lay around, had long chats, did a bit of much-overdue gossiping, and debated about whether or not to call Carolle.  I taught them that although the word “douche” means merely shower in French, in American, its meanings are far more satisfying.  It was a lovely surprise to find ready-made friends, and through them, I’ve made some rash generalizations about the superior well-adjustedness of French youth.

At the Feria with my well-adjusted friends: Zoé, Fanny and Arthur

Sweet Kevin, who is always offering to drive me places.

4. Naturally, eating things other than kebab/merguez sandwiches and french fries has fallen by the wayside.  In any case, what I’ve been craving like mad (other than rice and the cool, lime, sour taste of Thai salad) is a pizza.  So I biked over yesterday to the Carrefour (my old friend) and bought a prepared chorizo (the other thing I was craving) pizza and this delicious artisanal wheat bière de garde called La Goudale.  The pizza was as you might imagine, but the beer was pretty wonderful, with the hugest, heaviest head I’ve ever seen.  It stuck to the insides of the glass.  The beer itself was a beautiful deep golden color and tasted yeasty, wheaty, slightly hoppy, slightly clove-like (like a good version of a Hoegaarten).  Delicious!

Carrefour chorizo pizza. Looks better than it was.

La Goudale.

See what I mean about the head?

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