International relations and quinoa

map of Tenessee    We were invited to lunch yesterday with an Amercan couple from Tennessee who come to   France for a few months every year to visit their son and his family. They have bought a tiny house in the local town Longue and done it up very tastefully.

Their son studied agriculture in the States before moving to France. He married a french girl and they have two children. When the little girl was about eighteen months old they realised she was very thin and not thriving and she was diagnosed with coeliac disease – an intolerance of gluten. They had difficulty finding gluten-free products in France so their son decided to grow their own. He now runs an experimental farm locally where he trials different types of quinoa and oats. He has outsourced the growing of the quinoa to other farmers and he runs a consultancy. Tomorrow he will be presented with a ‘Medaille d’honore’ at the local townhall for his services to agriculture in France. The parents were understandably proud. The apricot crumble we enjoyed included organic oats from the farm which they had rolled themselves with a special machine in the kitchen.

The conversation also turned to babies and births since we are expecting our third grandchild in June. They had an amusing story about a father who was determined that his child would be born on Kansas soil even though they were living in Alabama so he smuggled a bowl of Kansas soil into the delivery room!

Gerard Depardieu at Saumur

Every year in the Spring there is a Book and Wine Festival at Saumur. We have not as yet taken part but this year it was held in the newly renovated theatre. Several authors are present and for an entrance fee you can talk to them and look at their books.

There was great excitement this year because the actor Gerard Depardieu had been invited following the launch of his autobiography.  We happened to be having lunch in Saumur and arrived at the theatre when he had just finished making a speech from the top of the steps. He then walked down the steps towards us, apparently heading for a boat downstream later on. He was leaning heavily on two men – whether for protection or support we don’t know.  He is no stranger to the Loire valley, owning the Tigne Chateau in the Layon Valley.

The topic of his visit was raised at the weaving class. Everyone had their own story – a certain restaurant he visits regularly, kilo steaks and litres of wine consumed, the time ‘I gave him an ashtray!’, opinions about his move to Russia. Le-show-Depardieu-a-Saumur_image_article_largeA larger than life character in every respect.