Sunday, April 19, 2015


Add to Google Reader or HomepageHave you ever wondered why, if you have an American or English book and you set it on a coffee table with the front cover showing, you can read the spine? But if you have a French book and you set it on a coffee table with the front cover up, the writing on the spine is upside down. Can anyone explain the idiosyncrasies of the French book press?

You know that it is spring in Vaison la Romaine when :

·         there are wonderfully sweet strawberries from Carpentras
·         there are spring melons – about the size of a soft ball – but with enough sweet flavor to fill a room
·         the price of asparagus drops to a point where it is affordable (it started at 12€ per kilo or about $6 per pound. It is now under $2.00 per pound).
·         the Tuesday market is almost at grid-lock if you shop after 9:30 AM.
·         when walking around the village or sitting in one of the cafés, one hears almost as much Dutch and English as French (lots of tourists!)

Miscommunication. On Tuesday, we saw that one of the cafés was having a “Cajun/Creole” night with live music. Right below the line about live music was the word: “Jambalaya”. We made reservations and showed up at the appropriate hour. When the waiter finally came to take our order, we said we wanted jambalaya. The waiter looked confused and asked: “Quoi? Vous voulez quoi?” (What? What do you want?) We repeated “Jambalaya” and he started looking irritated. We said that the word “Jambalaya” was on the center of the menu board in front of the café. He gave us his best French shrug (implying that he didn’t know and could care less) and then asked again what we wanted from the menu. We couldn’t let it go and asked if “Jambalaya” was the name of the group that was playing. (Another shrug) We asked for a pitcher of wine and said to bring the wine and we would then order from the menu. By the way, the two musicians who made up the group called “Jambalaya” did a lot of covers of American songs – only two of which were Cajun… 


  1. Wait! Wait! Don't tell me. I thought you were going to explain the idiosyncrasy. But no, you went on to pricey asparagus and Jambalaya. Now I am as confused as the waiter.

  2. As most things, in America it is about money... how the shop keeper easily read the titles to make them easy to organize and sell. In Europe where printing and publishing started and where there were fewer back in the day, books were flat and it was easier to read them in the opposite direction. Voila' (Mary Longe Life Libraries)

  3. Hi to both of you,
    Thanks for ther puzzle, a great help for the hyperactive as well as the hypoactive kids...
    Come and see us,
    I have got a lot to catch up with on this fabulous blog, Mark, it is a delight to read
    mid-Atlantic ocean perpsectives of our common past.
    First prize of the V i v r e e n s e m b l e won by a member of our school and... 'us'
    (among 600 participants in France)
    So nice to have a much needed break...
    A 50 to 60 people-gathering-anniversary is expecting us on May 2nd but feel free to pop up
    the bedroom is as comfy as when you left (and the Arbois wine may be worth a visit as well)



  4. t h a n k s for the puzzle may read better
    pop in ... to replace pop up ?