I thought last night’s speeches were bad enough, but tonight was even worse. Tonight’s dinner was hosted by the President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regional council, who is also an MP. So I suppose that justified him talking for twice as long as the Mayor last night. I thought he would never end.
We arrived at the dinner venue – a place called Patio de Camargue - at 8.00 pm, for what was billed as a ‘swinging soirée’ with ‘Chico and the Gypsies’. Chico and his musicians kept us entertained whilst we waited for the dignitaries to arrive, which wasn’t until after 9.00 pm. By the speeches started I was getting really hungry. Whilst the President was talking, the catering staff started bringing out plates of pizza and placing it on the tables. I leaned over to take a piece and one of the waitresses brushed my hand away saying “Not yet!” So I waited until she wasn’t looking and then grabbed a piece. When she saw me eating it she gave me a real dirty look. I just grinned back at her.
Whilst we were waiting for the formalities to start, I wandered around outside where some cooks were preparing paella and goulash in some enormous cast iron skillets. I was about to take a photograph of one of them when one of the cooks threw some logs on the fire underneath. That caused a cloud of ash to explode into the air (see photograph below) and I suddenly found my blue suit covered in grey ash.
I tried to brush the ash off my jacket but wasn’t very successful. I ended up with grey streaks all over it. I only brought one suit on this trip as I needed to travel light as I was using trains and buses in France. So I can’t get it dry cleaned until I get home. I will have to tell people that it is the latest fashion from Malaysia – blue with grey streaks.
I managed to get a better picture after the ash had cleared. Some of the ash must have settled on the food (that’s raw prawns that the cook is stirring in, not ash) so I guess that explained the slightly smoky flavour. My suit has a distinctly smoky aroma now too.