They are used to picky foreigners in the markets in and around Aix-en-Provence.
There’s always someone wanting to know about the life of the slaughtered chicken they want to buy.
Did the chicken house have indoor-outdoor flow?
“What’s English for ‘free range?'” you’ll hear one vendor say to another.
Did the chicken have a balanced, chicken-free diet?
“Yes of course, Madame!”
Was the chicken organic?
“Oui, c’est tout bio,”
And local? Was its carbon feather print the size of a small chicken or an enormous pterodactyl?
“Oui, c’est de la region – juste à coté d’Aix [Just down the road},” they’ll say agreeably.
In fact, market vendors are so agreeable that a cynic might wonder if they are simply providing the correct answers to questions they consider to be quite pointless.
So I wasn’t surprised to see bemusement on the faces of several butchers in several different markets and meat stalls when I asked whether their fresh or dried sausages contained preservatives.
“Mais non madame,” they responded with the same smile.
Comedians each and every one of them.
It was a video I stumbled onto on Youtube that informed me of my mistake – a common one, as it turns out.
You see the word préservatif means condom in France. It does not mean conservateurs – the chemicals used to extend the shelf life of food.
That’ll teach me for trying on English words with a French accent (although it often works!).
I swear that I asked that question of at least six butchers over a period of months before I learned my mistake.
Not one of them pointed out my error.