Vicarious Vacationry

Admittedly, it was totally insane and uncharacteristically extravagant of me to say “hell yes!” when my friends proposed going to the South of France just 6 months after my mid-life crisis/40th birthday vacation. Seeing as how that trip took 99% of my non-allocated-for-bills money and all. But THIS European trip was to celebrate one friend’s milestone birthday and another’s graduation; given my whole post-40 carpe diem thing, I figured I could just about justify going.

As long as I didn’t spend a dime on the house or my caboose before the trip. Or food.

But of course my oui oui oui all the way far from home answer was before my ancient computer slipped into a coma and one of my income sources dried up. And also before I realized that plane fares from the West Coast would refuse to get with the “we’re in an economic crisis, enjoy our fire-sale prices” program and actually RISE vs drop. So eventually I had to face reality, cast one last glance at photos of the darling little Avignon apartment I’d planned to plop in for a week, and tell my pals that I would not be the trois in their menage.

They took it very well, and I took it not well at all. But then I’m someone who nowadays sees NO POINT in working if I can’t spend on things that bring me joy. It’s not very evolved of me, I know.

Luckily, they agreed to share their trip with me in semi-real-time ways by writing online epistles from the aforementioned little Avignon apartment. Unluckily, I was only thinking of my pal Madeline’s passion for photography and history, NOT her passion for gastronomical delights. Which means that in addition to learning quite a lot about the various towns she and my other friend toured, I also had near-daily photos of pastries accompanied by prose such as:

For dessert I had a chilled ganache that was sprinkled with pecans and rolled in a tortilla, sliced into medallions and served with creme anglaise and whipped cream.  L. had some profiteroles.


“L’s dessert was definitely the more visually compelling.  She had three scoops of house-made ice cream: gingerbread, Calisson and banana flambee, which were accented with a little kumquat and a slice of star fruit.  It was lovely.  Mine looked a little like breakfast cereal, but it was wonderful: chocolate raviolis in a white chocolate sauce with flambeed banana ice cream served on the side.”

Friends for almost 30 years, and I never knew she was such a sadist.

It was tough, but I kept reading. All about how they needed me–the 3rd lightweight–to help them finish bottles of excellent wine. About how my tie-breaking skills were missed when arguments about gelato flavors (in France?!) flared. About the thrice-daily tears they shed over my absence. [Okay, one of those was more of a reading-between-the-lines thing.]

Yes, it was tough, but I loved hearing how excited they were about all they were absorbing and ingesting. And I really did learn a lot about desserts and architecture. So thanks, Ms M!

…Ms Madeline has offered up some coloriffic South of France photos so that those of us with open hearts and closed wallets can enjoy some vicarious pleasures…

...grabbed with a camera phone after the 2 adventurers had a particularly decadent, enjoy-our-truth-in-advertising dinner...