I can officially cross another French tradition off my bucket list—la raclette! The warm raclette was a pleasant contrast to the typical cold, gray, rainy Laonnois day. (I don’t think I’d survive long-term in the north of France; it’s reached the point where I want to go, “Sorry, I can’t work today, I need to…er, photosynthesize because I’m definitely not a plant” when there’s unexpected sunshine outside.)
After N picked us up, S, L, and me got to witness Martin in all of his bedhead and grenouillère (onesie) glory while we snacked on l’apéritif. We then moved to the main table, which was laden with tiny candles, the raclette machine, cheese, charcuterie (various sliced meats, including donkey, which I fortunately didn’t have to go near because it was on the opposite side of the table), potatoes, and salad. 5-year-old Tess made the lunch extra fancy with her handmade place cards, which were clothes-pinned to our wine glasses.
Basic explanation of the meal: we put a slice of cheese in a mini-tray, put the mini-tray on the raclette machine until the cheese bubbled and melted, and then scraped the cheese off and onto our meat and potatoes. Traditionally, la raclette involves half a wheel of cheese, but this wasn’t as fancy an occasion as N and M’s wedding dinner. (I didn’t get any photos of the actual meal because I left my phone in my purse, so naturally, I stole pictures from Google.)
After cleanup and before coffee/tea and dessert, Martin had one job—to bring the baguette to the kitchen table—but he ended up running around the house and nibbling on the baguette instead. I never did see what fate befell the baguette, in the end. Hopefully not anything too traumatic. Dessert featured N’s handmade, butter-rich galette des rois, or a traditional French cake made of frangipane (almond filling) with a fève (small charm) hidden inside. (Disclaimer: this photo is also stolen from Google.)
Tess interrupted my tea-drinking to ask if I’d read her a story, so I got to read Les Monsieur Madame et la galette des rois. My favorite character was Monsieur Sale (translates, rather unfortunately, to Mr. Dirty, poor guy, but I couldn’t help but laugh when I first saw him because he’s literally a scribble with a face).
TL;DR: N and M are genuinely the nicest people I’ve met in Laon, and I’d happily babysit Tess, Lily, and Martin for free if they didn’t live outside of the city.