I was a terrible french student as a school girl.
In fact, I would say that I was one of the worst in my entire school year.
In later life I wish I had been one of the "girly swots" in the front row.
I ended up in Switzerland as a student in the 1980s.
Walking into a rather chic-chic dinner party feigning comfort about the oncoming motions of kissing everyone in the room...I walked up to my hosts, opened my arms, saying "On baise!?" which basically means, " Let's fuck!"
Those of you who are grammatically inclined will know my error was based on confusion between a noun and verb -same word, different meanings. The noun baiser means " a kiss" and nothing untoward where as the verb baiser can be implied as the "f" word or even to shaft somebody in the swindling sense.
Fortunately for me my grammatical error was made in the presence of polite, rather safe, Swiss friends. I will add that they remained quite silent for what seemed an eternity to my uncomprehending self.
So why am I writing about this.?
Apart from my obvious traumatism, I am still this day really uncomfortable about kissing rather than hand-shaking in certain circumstances. Even though I know that it is about greeting, congratulating, happy birthday-ing and nothing more, I still get the odd blush.
Let me add that the blushes of this 40-something desperateanglohousewife are nothing compared to the major anguish I suffered as a 20 year old student in Switzerland. In France at least the kiss is only 2-fold Mmmmwah Mmmmwah. In Switzerland it was 4-fold!!...Mmmmwah Mmmmwah Mmmmwah Mmmmwah.
Depending on the chap who was greeting me, my reactions ranged from blush to sweaty break-out to folding knees! How can any rather naive, young, kiwi lass of 20 who has hardly even been kissed by her parents ( we weren't a kissing family!!) be expected to cope with such things!!
I was pondering on just this after a work "do" this weekend. Call me old -fashioned, but even after all these years I simply CAN NOT contemplate greeting my male colleagues in any way other than a brisk handshake. My director always shoots out his hand, he understands and accepts my anglo quirks. This weekend my other male colleagues totally ignored my thrust-out hand and did the " tonight we will do the bise " routine.
My knees didn't fold, but I was still blushing!
I joined in the movement after a while, throwing away my anglo uptight self, confident in the knowledge that at least now I get the grammar right!!
One of my absolute favourite cakes is the Ginger Kiss. They were a major source of joy in my kiwi childhood.
Seems an appropriate recipe for today's post..
- 230g butter
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup fine white sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder ( use whole sachet if you are in France and forget the soda..)
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- For the icing..
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1/2 teaspoon zest of lime ( optional)
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat well.
Mix together butter, icing sugar, vanilla and boiling water, beating until light and creamy.
Ice cooled kisses together.