Saturday 12 November, 2005

Fillet Mignon

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 8:43 pm

Last night Jim cooked dinner, he is only allowed to do this on a night when he doesn’t have work the next day and at most twice a week and even then he has to plead. Whilst in France cooking is my domain, without a full time job to define me I cling to roles, hobbies and pursuits for reassurance. So when he is permitted in the kitchen he does so with much anticipation and preparation. Earlier in the day he announced he was heading to the market to buy fresh produce, I declined as it was a public holiday and didnt expect it to be on. Triumphantly he returned with an entire cut of fillet mignon, he unwrapped it, held it to the light and turned it to highlight its leanness, it’s colour and made me smell it to note its ordourlessness. He gave a discourse in the location of the cut and why this aided it’s tenderness. Someone get this bloke back to Oz! Just bung it on the barbie for crying out loud! I know he cooks, be grateful I hear you say and I am, so I admired the meat and I nodded and I asked the expected and oh so important question of what marinade he had choosen. Well being of greek heritage he is somewhat lemon obsessed so I saw that one coming, garlic, but of course, olive oil and a hint of the Portugese Peri Peri sauce Joey had sent us home with from London. When the time came for him to actually cook I decided the best accompaniment to the occassion was a bottle of wine and settled down with a glass and that lovely feeling one gets when someone else is cooking and you know the meal is going to be good.

So everyone is happy and relaxed and anticipating a gorgeous meal when BANG ……. the electricity has gone out!!! We note all other apartments have their lights on and then scurry for candles, luckily I’m a romantic and a huge fan of Ikea so tealights are ablaze in seconds. Jim has his million watt bike light at the fuse box and is looking confused as all fuses are intact and the circuit breaker is not resetting or doing whatever it is that it’s supposed do. I’ve decided nothing can be done for the evening as we are in a foriegn country and experience has taught me well that never assume the systems are the same. Call an electrician in the evening on a public holiday and have the bill sent to the agents to pass on to the landlord, in Australia yes, no worries mate. But in France, Oh la la I think not!

I first question the meat, Jim with much relief tells me it hadn’t hit the pan and with that grabs the keys!? He’s taking it along with my packet of frozen fishfingers (I dont eat them at home and I have no idea why I eat them here), as well the sushi grade tuna to the fridge at his work. I love that man and his priorities. While he’s gone I’m bubbling with excitement which I can only explain as the thrill left over form childhood experiences of when the electricity went out, as a kid I also loved thunderstorms and having to get up at 4am to beat holiday traffic on our drive to Sydney. When he returns the table is set with candles, wine and a meal of the char grilled vegetables he’d already prepared and the rice that reached absoption stage and required no futher heat to finish cooking…all’s good. Jim sulking for a bit over the loss of the fillet mignon but soon joins me in thinking its all a bit of a hoot.

The next morning we head to the real estate agents, I am not at all optimistic and am already planing to get out my trusty Trangia so we can at least cook and boil water over the next few days. The mademoiselle at the agents tells us it is not her problem and turns her back on us anticipating we will leave…..we do not. Jim rings the landlord who tells us rudely it is not his problem as we have over used the electricity…..we did not. We fear something that has caused the entire apartment to go out will not be a small job with a small bill. If we ring the electricity company we worry we will be responsible for the bill, we do not know the rental protocols in France and unlike in Australia when you sign the lease here you are not given an imformative little red booklet. The agent we found the apartment through and paid them for the privilage, says that is where our relationship with then has ended. She tells us she is not sure whose responsibility it is to pay a repairman, ours or the landlords, she wants us to leave. And early on we would of or we would of called for back up, but we are tired of asking people for help and we are tired of being screwed because we dont want to be rude or aggressive to the residents of our host country. So in French Jim tells her firmly we are not going anywhere and she can ring the landlord on our behalf. She fires back with a plethora of rapid French, Jim fires back with what he said in French but louder and I bombard her with English. She calls the landlord, half an hour later the landlord and an electrician are at our apartment, the electricity is back on and the landlord is shaking our hands with a smile and asking is there any other concerns he can address. He wishes us a bon weekend as he leaves.

So we are pleased, well except that we had to cancel our visit to Luxembourg, but what is more important is Jim is back in the kitchen tonight and the fillet mignon is back on the menu!

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