Monday, January 23, 2012

Bourdeilles Country Ham

How many days are there in a year?
How many days are there in a year?
Tom would incredulously ask me this question once or twice a year for the first 5 years marriage.
Finally 365 stuck in my head.
That is a quick insight into my affinity and relationship with numbers and any application of the dang things. Currency conversion, distances, cooking weights, each application has a story. Every story is another addition to the multiplying repercussions Tom and I have had to untangle because of this problem. (Though these ripples have never subtracted or divided us.)
Here is the most current one........

Last Saturday was the village of Bourdeilles’ “Best Wishes for the New Year” party. We listened to a speech from the mayor, then greedily scurried for drinks and appetizers. While town-folks mingled before dinner two young people went from person to person with a large ham and a clip board. You were to give an estimation for a length of string loosely swirled around the ham and then the weight of the ham. I watched as old timers hefted that ham up and down, serious expressions on their faces. They have had some experiences with calves, lambs, maybe even what we would think of as an enormous duck or two. The “recorders” would nod heads, record the estimations and then move on. 
Finally it was my turn. I looked at that long black string and blurted out. “ 7!”. 
“7 what, madame?”
 “Oh... 7 meters.” 
“ (Guffaw) 7 meters?! 
This was duly noted on the recording sheet and I took a peek at the paper, the largest number I could see was 2.8 meters - boy was I off. 
Now time to heft the ham and proclaim the weight. 
“12, madame!! 12 what?”
“Er... Kilos?” 
“No no you must mean pounds.” 
“Oh yes, well then it must be something like 6 kilos!” (I only know this from all the years of starving poor Jolie the dog so she could make the Air France carry on weight). But this ham had to weigh more than Jolie so I added a bit and said 7 kilograms. Then off they went snickering about my foolish guesstimates.

Sometime after the 3rd or 4th course a hush came over the crowd. It was time to announce the winner of the coveted ham.
“The length of string is 6.8 meters - there are two people with an estimate of 7 so the weight will decide the winner- and the weight is 6.6 kilos -so the winner is Madame V, i, e , t, h.”
I wish you could have seen the faces of those two ‘record’ takers. We just looked at each other and laughed.

As usual in a French crowd there was an endless flow of advice.  All food concerns being gravely important. Am I going to be able to eat all of it? Do I know that I am supposed to eat the ham very thinly sliced. That it is to be eaten with a big bowel of onion soup. That sharing your ham is perhaps the very best way to honor it?

And now I cannot walk through the village without being asked how my ham is. Oh, the French are such romantics! 


elizabeth said...

What a sweet victory--or should I say salty? Enjoy!

Juanita said...

Way to go Susan. We always are lucky at things like that.

Bill seems to be able to win a donut every other week at the local bakery.