Okay, enough of hungry children. We’ve all agreed that it’s sad and important and we’ll do what we can. But today let me take you back to the wretched excess of this French life, specifically my appetite. I suspect for most people the holidays are a lot about food. For me it’s nothing but food. I don’t buy gifts any more nor do I expect any. So I don’t have to shop or wrap or find a parking space at the mall. I don’t even have to cook. But I do have to eat.

Semur is getting ready for Noël. The streets are starting to fill up with little wooden chalets that sell seasonal specialty goods, everything from handmade toys to hot, paper thin crepes smeared with globs of Nutella. Guess which one I’ll be hanging off twice a day? The smell alone is enough to do me in. There are concerts and chorales of course but most important there’s a contest. One that I’m convinced I must win.

It’s the annual Semur Jeu de Noël, a standard local lottery, well, standard for France. You go to any of the participating shops, buy something and they give you a coupon. Once you’ve collected ten, you put them in an envelope with your name and phone number on it and drop it in the drum. Thanks be to jaysus the grocery store is giving them out because I would’ve bought a welding helmet just to get in on this action.

Why all the excitement? Well, first prize is a big screen TV, third prize is a jazzy cell phone, blah, blah, le blah. It’s second prize I’m after, a meal at a restaurant in a nearby town, Saulieu. A meal for two valued at 500 euros. That’s 675 Canadian dollars. Now I’d never pay that for any meal but if someone is foolish enough to give it to me, tuck a napkin in my collar and sit my arse in a velvet baroque chair. I’m in.

Last spring I stood outside the restaurant in question, the Relais Bernard Loiseau. I read the menu that also listed the prices. I honestly thought they were typos (275 euros for chicken?) until I learned that Monsieur Loiseau was one of France’s most revered chefs. Tragically he shot himself in 2003 reportedly due to speculation that he was about to lose his status as a three star chef. His widow carried on his work and his restaurants are still regarded as some of the finest in the country.

My research tells me that he suffered from depression and it was likely his illness that led to his untimely demise. Really it’s only logical that I be the winner. I would be remiss as a psychiatrist if I didn’t get down there and get to the heart of the matter by gorging myself into a butter induced coma. Of course maybe I should be examining myself, specifically how badly I want to win this ridiculous prize. Diagnosis: Gluttonitis, also known as GGS, Greedy Guts Syndrome.

 

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