I have been hitting you awfully hard this month with entries centering around wacky French customs and observances. Does this make me dangerously close to being called a Francophile? Probably. Is that going to stop me from giving you my number three reason for why I love the French? Hell no.
I stumbled across my #3 reason when I was bartending at the cafe and a customer of mine (French) spilled red wine on her white silk blouse. "Oh dear" she said looking down wryly at the red blotch as though it had said or done something wildly inappropriate. " Would you like some club soda?" I offered trying to be helpful. "Oh no" she said waving her hand, " bring me a glass of white wine." "But the club soda may help remove the stain," I replied, thinking that she may not have understood me. " Oh, I understood you," she said, her pride brimming " but the best way to remove a red wine stain is with white wine, not with club soda." She ran her index finger down the list of wines by the glass, passing the house white (a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc), the Pinot Blanc (a moderately priced Alsacian), and then pausing at the Sancerre (our most expensive white by the glass)." I'll take this one, " she requested. It seemed a bit extravagent to use such an expensive glass of wine for the purpose of removing a stain, but then again, she was French and in the end, it did remove the red wine from her blouse.
I must say, I was amazed. I priased the French for their infinite wisdom and when two days later a friend of mine, Andrew, found himself with wine stained lips after a Malbec rampage, I suggested that he might clean his lips and whiten his teeth with a nice crisp glass of Sancerre.
" What do you think about a glass of Prosecco?" he asked, kicking it up a notch. Now clearly Andrew was in no need of more vino. Still, I could not fight my curiousity, " I bet the bubbles would create a kind of scrubbing effect" I responded with glee. Andrew ordered a glass of bubbly and the Rioja totting Spaniard sitting beside him at the bar leaned in, " I don't mean to listen to your conversation but, did you say you were going to remove the red wine stain on your mouth with Prosecco? I am Spanish (pause) and we know a bit about wine, (pause) and I have never heard of such a thing." He looked perplexed, and almost anxious at the idea that his wine knowledge was lacking such unessentials . I fought the urge to feed his pompus anxiouty with insinuations that our hair-brained scheme was common knowledge among those in the know, and I explained everything to him.
When the Prosecco arrived, The Spaniard and I watch intently as Andrew sipped then scrubbed, sipped then scrubbed his lips and tongue.
Whether the French remedy worked, or fail in the end is rather obvious from Andrew's purple tinted tongue. Perhaps we should have splurged and gotten a glass of Champagne.