Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My First Time

I go on the principle if the line is long, it must be worth the wait

Pale pig heads with their staring eyes and chickens with their brightly feathered necks wrapped around their goose-pimpled body as if taking an afternoon nap line up in the glass cases, waiting for me to choose.

It’s Tuesday morning, the main market day in Dijon, so all the lines at the boucherie counters are long. This face – the one racing back and forth under the Jean-Francois Chenu, Maître Boucher sign – seems to be smiling.  I see him throw his head back and laugh at something the old man with the wicker panier said.

BoucherieChacouterie. Volailles.  I guess it tells me something about the kind of meat they sell, but it’s too hard to balance my market sack filled with vegetables and my dictionary.  Viande pour braseradeMagretCanardCuisse de grenouilleGigot d’agneuEntrecôteSteak à hacher.

There are no tightly-wrapped packages of pork chops or a pound of ground beef.  It’s all just large hunks of unidentifiable meat cut to order.  And suddenly I’m six years old, sitting on the floor of the butcher shop on Jefferson Ave., waiting for my mom to laugh at something the man in the blood-stained apron behind the counter said.  I wait patiently for her on that dusty linoleum as the long line of customers buy pork chops for dinner that night and roast for Sunday.

Monsieur Chenu smiles broadly.  I point to the pile of ruby red meat that says “entrecote.”  I recognize that word from restaurant menus. He wields his cleaver.  Voilà, it’s steak.  Then I point to something I’m sure is veal or lamb.  With that same warm smile and energetic Bonne journée he’s given all his regulars he points me toward the cashier where I can claim my first purchase from a French butcher.

10/5/11-conjure change3
This story is another writing prompt from Write on Edge.  The directions were:
In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”  Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement.  Word limit is 300.

Master butcher, M. Chenu -- never without a smile for this tongue-tied alien

Do you have a first time for something?  Share it in the comments box.
Go here if you want to read more about my meat-buying challenges in France.


Marna - Just Words On A Page said...

This was lovely -- I have never been to France but I felt as if I were there just for a fleeting moment. You caputured this so well. Thanks for sharing:)

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

What a wonderful experience! I was in France, but I never went to a charcuterie. We were tourists and had no place to cook. This brought me right there.

My first time experience was when I had to go on theCyclone, roller coaster in Coney Island, NY. I was 15 and scared to death of going on it. But I was with three other kids, two of them were guys and on my first day date. So when they said they all wanted to go on I said, "Sure." Fun, I thought as we started up the long incline, then we reached the top and plummeted down. I thought I would fall out of the car and when it didn't stop, the coaster is huge, I gritted my teeth and tried not to die. Finally the horror came to an end and I came to a conclusion. If I could survive the first time, then why not try a second ride? I did and conquered my fear.

Thanks for the prompt, Marna.:)

monicastangledweb said...

Fascinating story! As a little girl in Queens, I remember going to the butcher shop. But now, it's straight to the grocery store, where everything is precut and tightly wrapped, etc. Thanks for the glimpse into your experience. :)

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