Written later in the day on Saturday, May 13, 2006
What a Marvelous Day
It was a wonderful day. After visiting La Salette, we stopped in the first village down the mountain named Corps for lunch â€“ it was already 2:30 and we had a long ride back. A Swiss-looking village nestled on the side of the mountain. We found a nice hotel-restaurant and had no idea what awaited us.
(If you are uninterested in gastromical delights, skip down a few paragraphs.) Salmon wrapped in puffed pastry, appetizers to dazzle the senses. Sauces to delight the palate and sumptuous food like we have never eaten. Shrimp, oysters, olives, smoked meats, breads with bleu cheese and salmon and smoked ham or beef, pickled beets, creamed vegetables, and more. After 45 minutes of sipping the local red wine and eating more â€œstartersâ€ than I can ever remember or comprehend, they finally brought the first course. For Janet it was pigeon patte and for me a stuffed mountain pie full of meat and cheese and sitting on a mountain of the best mushrooms I have ever eaten with a sauce that cannot be described.
When I was a boy we used to collect Morel Mushrooms. Even last year I found a few along the tree line behind our house. We tenderly sautÃ©ed them with a touch of butter and cut them in small pieces to share and savor. Today Morels are more per pound than gold â€“ I think. But our mountain plate was full of fresh Morels.
Then came Janet’s huge braised trout with two large crawfish in a delightful crawfish sauce. Then came my roast duck with more mushrooms in a different though equally delicious brown sauce. Setting in the middle was a huge bowl of scalloped potatoes.
But that was not all. Next came fruits, pies, ice creams and coffees. The whole meal took two hours and the British couple sitting next to us laughed about if we would need help getting to our car after eating so much food. It was a gift from God, we think, and we both said it was the finest meal we had ever eaten in our lives.
We had the chef sign the wine bottle which we will keep as a souvenir â€œThat Day in France.â€
Anyway, it started to pour and with windshield wipers flapping we descended the windy roads back to Lyon. But we had one more stop before hitting the mattress to prepare for an early flight on Saturday.
We went about 20 miles north of Lyon to Ars. We had been there during the Jubilee year in 2000 but we wanted to visit again to pray for all our priest and seminarian friends â€“ and for our family â€“ in the presence of the incorrupt body of St. John Vianney, the Cure de Ars.
We got there at 7 PM and expected the church to be locked up tight for the night. But that is not what God had planned for us â€“ to put frosting on the cake of a very special day. We drove up in the rain and were amazed to see the church door open. We quickly parked and ran to the door expecting them to close and lock it at any minute.
No locked doors here! We walked right into the beginning of a Mass and realized before long that it was the Bishop of Ars celebrating the Mass. It was confirmation and many young people were dressed in their finest. We loved the Mass, rejoiced in Godâ€™s many gifts and stayed to pray and meditate for quite a while after everyone was leaving.
Dodging the rain we ran back to our car and took off for the hotel. Right now Janet and I are sitting in the Lyon airport ready to board our plane for another adventure â€“ to dig around under old churches in Rome to discover the life and saga of the Apostolic Fathers.