Saturday, 12 June 2010

I love being in Germany, I really do. After today's orchestral rehearsal, however, I bumped into a little market of stalls of produce from Burgundy, providentially set up right in front of the opera house, and a wave of nostalgia for France overcame me.

It wasn't just the sumptuous array of foods, although I have to admit to succumbing to some rather aromatic cheese, a small jar of fig, rum and raisin jam, and some rillettes (come on Germany; unidentified spare bits of pig mushed up in fat? It seems such a natural thing for you to be able to make...); rather I enjoyed firstly the feel of the language and secondly the automatic flirtation. Conversation was easy at each stall, nonsense and smiles dispensed without serious thought. I had the best fun at one of the wine stalls, though.

You see, it's not that there aren't some fabulous wines here in Germany, many of them local; and there are numerous occasions to try those wines in similar situations. However it has been my experience so far that when you try wines when out on your own in Germany, you, erm, try wines. You talk about the wine in tones as serious as you can muster, and everything seems jolly businesslike.

The French domaine owner however immediately turned the charm on full flow. I was forced (oh so reluctantly...) to try a little of each of his wines and was treated to a flowery monologue whilst he deftly served other customers and sparkled even more than his fizz. This evidently amused a passing German lady no end, as she stood just behind my shoulder, oblong in a flowered dress and eyes crinkling with mischief, and kept up a rather cynical sotto voce commentary from about a foot below my ear: "Oooh, isn't he cheeky?" "Mind you, the French are like that, aren't they?" "Not bad looking, though, huh?" "I think he has his eye on you, young lady" (this last accompanied by a quick poke in the ribs).

Meanwhile in my other ear I couldn't quite block out a couple of visiting Americans, obviously under the impression that I was Foreign (and therefore wouldn't understand English), wondering loudly why I didn't seem to be having to pay for the wine I was drinking, when it quite clearly said Probierglas (tasting glass) €3... (Ladies. I was on my own, a woman, speaking French; it's against the rules for a French man to ignore that!).

I managed to tear myself away in the end, my prize a couple of bottles of excellent Pinot Noir for rather less than they officially cost, and a valedictory wicked grin. Vive la France!!

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