I thought I could fit this all in 1 blog post but I know Tyler doesn’t like to read more than 1 paragraph at a time so I try to keep that in mind. Today’s post is a continuation of this post. Here is part 2 of a 3 part series.
Gruyere, where they make the cheese, is also the site of an epic Swiss chateau. That’s a fancy word for castle. (Thanks Nancy). We’ve now been there 3 times – with Tiffany, with Howard and with Linda. And I’d go back again. The views are amazing. The castle is more of an art gallery than anything, which is fine because there is a ton of surreal style work which is right up my alley. There is also the medieval hamlet leading up to the castle. Although I’ve seen their cheese in the States, a local delicacy served at all the restaurants in town called “Gruyere double crème” was a new one to me.
It’s along the lines of freshly whipped cream but a little thicker. It’s not sweet, just decadent. When my mom and I visited, we sat down at a café to have some with coffee. The owner did not speak English and my broken French was not enough to prevent us from ordering two menu items which loosely translated to “berries with double crème” and “meringue with double crème”. Surely our host thought us gluttons because each plate had around 2 heaping cups of crème on it. And I’m going to be honest, he was correct. Yes, we finished it. When in Rome right? Ah, and I almost forgot, coffee was served with a small chocolate bowl filled with the stuff. We had two. That day, I thought I might keel over. Writing about it now, I want more.
Sarah could not have done a better job nailing it with the kids’ school. They alternate days of speaking French and English. So, naturally, Milan now talks with a British accent (the head teacher is British)
“Dohhddy, my ponts are a bit tight. Are we having porridge for breakfast? Oh, brilliant!”
If the pupils don’t want to nap, they can meditate. And their lunch menu looks like it was created by Julia Childs. “Finish your salmon now, it’s crème brulee time children!” They also go on awesome field trips. The one shown in the photos was a sort of All Your Senses day. Hendrick – who is soaking wet and covered in dirt before we go outside in general – was in hog heaven. Milan – who may not get as dirty as the little man, also enjoyed parading about in the mud with no pants on. And then there was Maren. When the bus arrived back at school, where we waited, Milan and Hendrick got off looking dirty but otherwise chipper. Their sister stumbled off the bus, hair in full bird-nest mode, scowling and LESS than happy. This sort of thing is NOT her cup of tea.
Did you know that to become a citizen of Switzerland, you need to be “approved” by your peers as worthy? If your community doesn’t think you’ve done a good enough job integrating, they can vote to keep you un-citizenized as it were. I think you need to live in the country for something like 10 years to even be considered for this honor so we’re not planning to go this route. However, we have been working on “fitting in”:
- We fed the children horse salami. This was unintentional though the logo, containing a picture of a horse, on the package should have been a giveaway. Seabiscuit is all over the menu here.
- We are punctual for the train. Locals get very antsy when the train is not at the platform at the prescribed time. And I’m sure they love our 3 rugrats doing backflips once we’re boarded up.
- We had a birthday party for Milan and invited all her school friends. When the friends arrived and were dropped off by their parents – who left – we were surprised. Not that we had a choice. But somehow, dropping off your 3 year old daughter with a pair of strangers for a couple hours doesn’t seem likely to happen in the States. Just how they do it here.
- Most importantly we are practicing the language. And for the most part being immediately identified as non-native speakers. Shocking. Par exemple:
Hamburger Food Truck
We found a food truck at the farmer’s market with legit burgers. Which is great…if you can order properly.
- Food Truck Vendor: (in French) “What kind of sauce would you like on your hamburger?”
- Me: “Oui”
Which you likely know means Yes
Repeat this exchange, verbatim, 3 times while stares from people in line get stronger and confused look on vendor’s face gets more confused. Then…
- Food Truck Vendor: (in English) “KET-CHUP?”
- Me: (breathing a sigh of relief) “OUI!!!”
We get our groceries delivered because without a car, we would spend literally all day going back and forth to the supermarket.
- Me: (greeting the delivery guy): “Bonjour!”
Which means Good Morning and is not used at 8 PM – when the groceries were delivered.
- Delivery Guy: (in English) “Hi, how are you?”
Or “Not from around here are you?”
More to come in the next post…