Why Are The French So….Nice?
I’m not going to claim that the reason people here are so nice has anything to do with artichokes. Unless it’s to say that these violet artichokes are beautiful, and the French appreciate beautiful food at least as much as I do, and once that mutual interest is established, niceness ensues.
Here’s what I mean. Remember when I made that Seville orange marmalade? Well, I took a jar of it to the fruit vendor who’d sold me the oranges, just to thank him for having such nice fruit. And then the other day he tucked into my basket
the first strawberries of the spring, to thank me back.
And there was the time when, after I’d remarked on how expensive tulips are here compared to in the States, my favorite florist added half a dozen to my order, on the house. So naturally I took him a jar of marmalade too, to thank him. And then last week he ran out of his shop when he saw me across the street to hand me
one perfect rose, to thank me for thanking him. And really, those are just a couple of examples for which I happen to have pictures. The system of give and take is very intricate here, and I’m sure I’m only beginning to understand it. But sharing something wonderful with someone you appreciate seems to be one of the keys to how it all works.
I’m making some vin d’orange now, and some of it will certainly find its way into the fruit and flower guys’ hands. And some will go to Alice to thank her for the extra vegetables she often adds to my bag, and maybe some to our garagiste to thank him for the time recently when he came out to the house to jump start the dead battery but wouldn’t take a centime for his time. Although probably he thought we didn’t owe him anything because he still remembered the bottle of good whiskey we’d given him to take on his annual vacation.
See how it’s never ending? I thank you and you thank me so I re-thank you and you re-thank me back and so on it goes, hopefully forever. It’s a kind of niceness that I never tire of, and it’s very, very French.