You wouldn’t think that making a decision about having fish and chips would be so difficult. After all, when we’re in Great Britain, it’s one of our favorite meals. Nothing goes better with a pint of real ale, sitting in a cozy pub by the fire than a traditional beer-battered North Sea cod accompanied by crispy, hand-cut fries. And there’s the problem; that all takes place in the UK. This may sound stereotypical but when we’re in Germany we have sausages and beer; in Italy it’s pasta and pizza; in Ireland we enjoy potato stew and soda bread; in Spain there are cured meats and paella. Every country has its specialties and they know how to do them right. So here we are in a country where we cannot go without our daily ration of just-baked baguettes, a choice from hundreds of types of cheeses, and wines that are produced from the grapes that are grown a stone’s throw from our front door. So why the dilemma?
On the other side of the castle there is a bar/restaurant that has a fantastic fortress view that we seldom see. On a regular basis they invite a fish and chips food truck to park in their lot and dispense their fresh-from-the-fryer namesake product. While your dinner is prepared to order you can take a seat on the patio that looks out on the scene you see here to watch the sun go down behind the 800-year old stone walls. It makes for a great all-English evening.
When Bill and I made the decision to move to France, we both agreed that it would be important for us to integrate into the community by learning the language, absorbing the culture, and becoming friends with our neighbors, shopkeepers, and others that we would encounter frequently. In other words, to fit into the local surroundings. We knew that it would be difficult to achieve that goal if we lived somewhere that might be called a “little America” with signs in English, fast food restaurants on every corner, and hearing our native language spoken by everyone around us. That’s certainly not the case in Carcassonne and while it’s challenging, we couldn’t be happier.
The geographic area we live in, called Languedoc-Roussillon, has a surface area of about 27,000 km² which is almost exactly the same size as Massachusetts. Although that US state has a population of 6.7 million within its boundaries, there are 2.5 million people residing here, of whom only 1200 are Americans, so it’s not as if we’re going to run into each other by chance. Consequently it becomes a treat when we can go out to dinner or grab a drink with someone who shares the same language, the positive outlook on life, and affection for our new country and its people.
Were we spoiled by going to an all-English event and now in fear that we’ll fall away from achieving our goal? Not at all. Besides, it wasn’t a totally Anglo event anyway, beginning with the food truck itself. After all, right below “Fish & Chips” it says Recette Traditionnelle Britannique and what did we have to drink with that traditional British recipe? Local French wine, of course. Will we go back? Pass the malt vinegar, please, while I think about it.