My Favorite Mistake in Normandy, France
Bob always wanted to visit Normandy. The history, the food, the Bayeux Tapestry, Mont-Saint-Michel, the beaches, the battle sites, Honfleur, Rouen, were all waiting for us.
So here we were.
I was used to Paris and my French always got us by. Besides, everyone in Paris speaks English if you really need some guidance. I always prided myself asking for help with the French language, asking to be corrected, asking how to say a certain word or phrase. Traveling in Paris was the best French class I’d ever taken.
But Normandy was different. Not one word of English was spoken by our lovely husband and wife host. We were staying in a little house they rented out. Our arrival was late, and Sydney was little, and we were all looking forward to settling in for the night.
Not one word of English was spoken by our lovely husband and wife host.
As they welcomed us in their home delighted to have us, I quickly came to realize I was way out of my league. In my head and heart, I was a native speaking French person, but in reality, faced with people who only spoke French, I didn’t have a clue. I could not keep up. Bob looked at me confidently as if to say the floor is yours, but I fell flat. If it was a play, I’d have gotten a sour review and rotten tomatoes thrown at me.
The couple poured several glasses of Calvados to celebrate our arrival and I understood from their motions and my broken French, that Calvados was the drink in Normandy. I’ve always been a picky eater and can’t just down anything put in front of me.
Fish – does it have bones? I hate the thought of choking and I always find a bone. Chicken is it grilled or charred nicely? Mussels – forget it. Escargot, even worse. But Calvados, I had read about. Apples. How bad could it be? BAD. So bitter. I simply could not get it down. Pulling out my Acting 101 class, I did a great job gesturing but not really drinking.
How bad could it be?
They gave us the keys and were about to say goodnight when the woman looked at Sydney, who was very sleepy after a long day of travel and asked me, “Voulez-vous dessert pour un petite (or something like that). How sweet of her to ask me if I’d like dessert for my little one. That was so nice! My mind was thinking chocolate mousse or some other lovely confection with Chantilly cream. My mouth was watering. I could almost taste that yummy goodness. I replied “Merci, Oui.” Merci Beaucoup!
She dashed to her kitchen and brought back for me one dozen eggs. I’m sure my look was an immediate – huh? Red-faced, I quickly realized my blunder. My brain digested what just happened. She did not say dessert. She said des oeufs!
Bob and I had the most wonderful time laughing about that whenever something would happen that neither of us would understand. We’d say to each other, “Not dessert; des oeufs!” This went on for years.
I love that memory. It always brings a huge smile of that beautiful and remarkable time in Normandy.