Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Les Marrons Glaces

I have a piece of Junque hanging on my bathroom wall that I just love. I found it in a grimy junk store near the Michelin tire factory back when we lived in France. It was in the bottom of a box marked Free Stuff, (I NEVER pass up boxes marked Free Stuff) and I carried it right out the door before the old man at the cash register saw how excited I was and decided to charge me something.

Here it is.



Aren't you impressed? Okay, well I know it's not a long lost Monet, but I think it's pretty cool. but the best part was when I turned it over and saw this.



See! It's an old wooden lid for a box of marrons glaces (I know that last e should have an accent but I can't figure out how to do that yet. Just ignore it.) So how about that? Someone finished off their candied chestnuts, looked at the box on his coffee table and said, "I bet I could make something out of that." And so he (I'm assuming a man--the French can be pretty fixed about what men and women do--try putting a girl on a soccer team-- but that's a whole different subject) got out his wood-burning set and crafted an ocean scene on the inside, and a village scene on the top!

The thought just occurred to me that you may have missed what I just said because your mind froze up at the thought of eating candied chestnuts. Snap out of it! You should try one! Marrons glaces are a specialty of the Auvergne, the region of France where we lived. They look a little like shiny prunes but they're much tastier--and much more expensive. See a picture of them here. (Come on, click on it. There's even a recipe if you can read French.)

But back to today's wonder of the world --my wooden lid...
I hung it up in my house because I'm in love with the idea of making something amazing out of an ordinary cast-off. It's what writers do, I think--gather bits and scraps of things we've seen or heard in our everyday lives, and craft a universe out of them. It's what I try to do in memoir...to take a scene from a regular day and find the extraordinary within it.

And if you're still stuck on the Marrons glaces thing, you should at least learn how to pronounce the words correctly. Let Greta Garbo give you a lesson.





3 comments:

Adaora A. said...

Oh I'm jealous, I love things like that. I love free stuff. In U.S do the library's box up old books and offer them out for free? I know when the right time of year this occurs so I'm at my local library like clockwork to scoop up the good before the pickings get slim.

I'm evil like that.

Ah Gretta Garbo. C'est mangnifique! That's how it's said right?

Nathan Bransford said...

Wow, you know it's a great country when they're giving away amazing art for free.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Adaora, I've never been to a library giveaway, but they may have them. But every year the Friends of the Library hold this incredible sale where people donate used books for sale and the profits go to the library. It's incredible. I definitely go to that!

And Nathan, Amen. France was great for free or nearly free art-- so much so that my house kind of looks like a flea market now. I like it that way!