Bare Hands And Juicy Red Chilis–Celebrating Autumn In Southwest France
“October is a culturally busy month for our household in the Pyrenees-Atlantique department of southwest France where we’re living,” writes France Correspondent Lucy Culpepper.
“We kicked off the month with the 16th Basque Pelota World Championships based in the city of Pau. Twenty-two nations (including the United States, Cuba, Spain, Uruguay, Mexico, and Brazil) are competing for 14 world titles in 7 disciplines over 10 days.
“Never seen a Cesta Punta Chistera (racket)? Imagine a glove attached to a 24-inch-long canoe-shaped basket made of wicker and chestnut wood. Slip your hand into the glove, scoop up a small rubber ball, and fling it at an alarming speed at a wall.
“Next we cheered on France against Mexico in ‘Paleta Cuir’ and watched Mexico vs. USA in the ‘Main Nue’ (bare hand) category.
“Later in the month, we’ll be traveling to the next village, 2 miles down the road, for a concert performed by two internationally known musicians–baritone Arnaud Marzorati and accordionist Daniel Brel. It’s just US$15 for an evening of ‘Romances et Chansons.’
“To see the month out, we’ll visit the Basque region over on the western side of the Pyrenees-Atlantique department (on which I’ll be reporting in full in the January 2011 issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter).
“During the last weekend of October, the Basque village of Espelette holds an annual chili pepper festival. Chilies arrived in this region during the 16th century from Mexico and now have their own AOC (Appellation Origine Contrôlée). This means growers must conform to certain standards and that their chilies must actually be grown in the area.