A gift of time..
Nutmeg is happily jobless for the first time since the mid 1980s (you can do the math). Ginger as you already know has been working very hard on a Masters degree for the last 10 months – and he has done it! So what better way to celebrate by taking some well deserved time off than to travel? Nutmeg has been negotiating with Ginger for awhile and it is finally happening, they are going to France for six months! The planning began back in June and the list was very long. The most important thing was the visa application to allow for an extended stay in the country (anything over 90 days requires a visa).
Several years ago, Nutmeg worked in France and she knows that if there is one thing the French love it is paperwork. What better way to emphasize the national love for bureaucracy than a lengthy visa application? The process is 15 steps long and not for the faint of heart. You need to commit to gathering all of the following (and more) in original and photocopy versions; police clearance, finger printing, photos, insurance, copies of your bank balance, promises not to work, seek unemployment insurance or get sick… It is no small feat to gather the documentation. Once you have all that together, you need to physically go to Vancouver for a face-to-face interview, and to hand over the documents.
Ginger and Nutmeg arrived for their interview time and the actual process went something like this:
- Entry granted by the security guard after Ginger tried to stumble through a greeting in his best French
- The security guard is the first line of defense for paperwork review…he removed clips, staples, reordered the documents and told us to sit down (nicely of course)
- After reading a children’s French dictionary for the required amount of time you are called up to the second window
- “This form is old – I will allow it this time”
- “Your bank statement is old – I need a new one”
- More photos
- More fingerprints
- “Please pay your fee”
- “We require a prepaid envelope for return of the visa”
- “We close at 12:30pm”
- “We cannot guarantee anything…”
So with that Ginger and Nutmeg had 30 minutes to get to the bank and the post office before the office 12:30pm closing time….Made it!
Nutmeg decided long ago (it took Ginger a bit of time to catch on) that Jade our 9.5 year old black lab will also benefit from some French food, and she maybe able to pick up the odd word too. So proof of the fact that the French love their pets more than people, and certainly more than tourists… Jade’s application process has two steps and does not require a visit to the consular office.
France bound the adventure begins…
- 6 big bags
- 1 dog in a kennel
- 3 pairs of skis
- 2 laptops
- 2 kindles
Stay tuned for future posts from France.
In the meantime, enjoy this updated French classic recipe for Coq au Vin and think of us.
- 4 - 5 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 2 Pounds Chicken, breast and thigh pieces with skin on
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
- ¾ Bottle White Wine, should not be a heavily-oaked Chardonnay
- 1 Can/Jar Artichokes, drained
- 8 - 10 White mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth, low-sodium
- ½ Cup Flat-leaf Parsley
- ¼ Cup Fresh Tarragon
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
- 3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- In a plastic ziplock bag combine flour, salt, pepper and herbes de provence, mix well
- Add one piece of chicken at a time and shake to coat (like you did as a kid), shake to remove excess flour and set-aside on a plate
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan
- Brown the pieces of chicken until the skin starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes
- Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate
- Add to the pan add more oil if necessary and scrap the bits of flour off the bottom of the pan
- Add the onion and cook until translucent, 2-3 minutes
- Add the garlic, parsley, tarragon and rosemary, cook another 2-3 minutes to allow the spices to sweat a bit
- Add the mushrooms and allow to soften
- Add the chopped artichokes, white wine and broth
- Allow the broth an wine to reduce by ½ the volume
- Add the chicken to the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is reduced again by at least a quarter