Thursday, June 2, 2011
Circa 1980, I had the pleasure of coming to France via an exchange program through my high school.
I took my H.A.S.H. jean wearing,
Candie's shoe sporting,
Robert Plant hair-styled self
to Europe with the music of Led Zeppelin, Foreigner and Cheap Trick echoing in my mind.
First, a handful of us arrived in London where we stayed for a week-long cultural visit where we saw many new and exciting goings-on, très different from what we were accustomed to!
Punks, for example, where everywhere, especially on Kings Road.
I was kind of digging the concept of skinny pants and got myself a pair of these (well, for women, bien sur),
as well as a cute leather jacket.
The music was abrasive, à la Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious and the gang, I wasn't too interested.
In France I discovered pixie boots, leggings and skinny jeans. My hair was right on target with the new 80's fashion, no worries there.
The French teenagers were way more laid back than their American contemporaries. The drinking age was 16, it was not cool to drink to get drunk, rather you sat around nursing a drink, smoking Gauloise cigarettes,
wearing distressed Levis, strategically ripped and graffiti'd with your favorite band,
sporting Clarks shoes,
and discussing politics, religion and world affaires.
Bien sur, we also frequented nightclubs with our new-found French friends where we drank Gin Fizz's (pronounced geeen feeez) and danced to "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell.
My family, with whom I lived for 6 months, was incredibly warm, friendly and adorable. They spoke not one word of English! Needless to say, the first month we were breaking out in constant peels of laughter as I flipped through my trusty dictionary searching for ways to communicate, flapping my hands, pronouncing everyone wrong.
My French mother was quite the cook. After bragging for several weeks about her culinary skills, my best friend (who was staying down the road with her own French family), invited herself over for dinner. The concept of not one, but two Americans in the house put the French family into a tizzy and my French mother was determined to make the finest meal, a meal never to be forgotten.
And I will never forget: The French father, his three children, me and my American friend seated around the dining room table, the titillating air of anticipation crackling in the air, listening to the French mother banging pots around in the kitchen behind closed doors (the entire culinary operation had been top secret all afternoon).
Finally, she called her eldest daughter in to help carry out the platters. I jabbed my best friend in the ribs, raised my eyebrow in a knowing way and said, "Oh là là you are going to see what I've been talking about!" She rubbed her hands with glee.
And then the door to the kitchen opened and out came my French mother with this beef tongue stretched out on a white platter.
Bon! Gros bisous des années 80 et a bientôt!