The weather changed this week! Then changed back. Now they say it is going to be nice out tomorrow. Lets hope so. Tomorrow begins our new Petanque Club!
A few years ago when I discovered Google Images I took a look around. I was wondering if I could find pictures of Papa, Noel Lacan, from his days in New Orleans or in Boston in his Chef Whites circa 1960 to 1970. I didn't. On the other hand I did find a surprising picture when I put in his name.
You see Papa was named after his father, my Pepe. And that is his official photo from 1949 as Arbitre National du Drome, Petanque. My Pepe was a registered French referee of Petanque, kind of cool, don't your think.
Now I know you are saying cool? sure? if you say so. I say so. You have to understand that Petanque in France gets the kind of attention that Baseball in the US does. The differences are that you start playing when you are young...
and you keep playing when your are young and cool... with drinks in hand!
and you continue to play when you are much older...between drinks at the local bistro.
You play this game at family dinners. Sunday in the park. In-between aperitifs of Ricard, at the town square across from the Bistro, morning, noon and night. Picnics by the Seine. Les Bois de Boulogne, or Luxembourg. Or at a 40th birthday party in Northern New Hampshire down a dirt driveway with 17 family members from France and another 20 or so American friends from all over the US who have no idea what they have gotten themselves into!
That particular day I paired my best friends father, Mike, who speaks a good amount of German but really no French. With my Tonton Robert, a petanque expert. Expert at what is another questions, but for the sake of this story...and expert.
Then I paired my sister, Jacqueline or Ri-ki-ki (a mouthy wench if ever there was one), with my cousin, Le Grand Bernard...and Robert's son in law. Now as long as my sister and I have been going to visit the relatives in France, even when she was just 10 or so years old, she and my tonton have gotten into massive trash talk jousts while playing Petanque. This day was no different. Poor Mike had no clue what was going on. He pitched his boule when he was told. But really...he laughed at the antics of his partner and his opponent more than anything.
Petanque is the national past time for a reason...everyone can play, no real skill is necessary (though helpful) as long as you want to have a good time. AND if you want to get serious about it, there is plenty of opportunity, there is (REALLY) a professional league.
So enough already Yolande! How do you play?
It is very simple...very similar to Bocce (though the boule are half the size and made of metal instead of wood and are heavier). Haven't played Bocce? Try a kissing cousin to horse shoes. The goal is to be on closest to the buoy. The rest of the rules, don't worry, we will teach you.
So if you are near New Haven...
And you want to learn...
And you are out for a laugh, and maybe a little French culture...
Come on down tomorrow, (April 13th and every other Saturday through the summer) from 2p to 4p. We will be gathering at Yolande's Bistro and Creperie between 1:30 and 1:45pm. 99 Orange St., New Haven, CT.
While you are thinking about it...a little history of when Bill Cosby introduced Petanque for the first time in popular culture to the US. Click through, they are worth the giggle, and the trash talk, it is still there.