Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Three Bathrooms and a Range-Cooker

OK - forget about the "what-happened-in-the-past-year-and-a-half" stuff for awhile. As of today, we are finally on our way to the one thing that, in my mind, will make this house habitable: a bathroom.

For months, M. Carbourdin, the mason, has been promising us that the tiles in our bathrooms will be finished by the end of July. And yet, July inched closer and closer with nary a tile laid. In fact, for the past several weeks we stopped hearing from M. Carbourdin altogether, despite numerous phone calls from Dawg.

Although Dawg was getting anxious, I wasn't worried because Carbourdin, though on the whole extremely reliable, gets like that sometimes. If he doesn't have a positive answer for you, he will simply not return your phone call until he has one. (This strikes me as a very french way of dealing with something. I'm generalizing wildly here, but, in my experience, the french are not big on saying "I don't know." They will go through all kinds of convolutions and sometimes even make up crazy, clearly untrue stories to avoid saying, "I don't know." On the whole, I admire Carbourdin's approach. Clearly he thinks it is more honorable to ignore clients than to lie to them!)

Anyway, yesterday he sent an email, full of apologies, informing us that the tile guy would be starting that very day. And as far as we know, he has.

I am so excited about this. This is the dream. A house with a brand-new bathroom. No, no -- a house with three new bathrooms! Do you remember what the old one looked like? Well, take a gander:

Yeah. You understand why I'm so excited. It will be so nice when this toilet is a distant memory.

Not that we ever used it. I would have happily let myself explode first.

The Range Cooker

But the bathroom isn't the only exciting thing going on. We're buying an oven. And not just any old oven - a Lacanche

Nice, huh? This is a serious stove. We're pretty sure we want the Saulieu model, but we still have a few other decisions to make. For example, how many burners to have. We will definitely opt for the classic four burner hob, but we could have as many as six. Six burners! The very thought of it makes me grin like an idiot. I can just see me now, whirling around the oven in a white chef's hat, manning a half-dozen copper pots and pans filled with complicated sauces and tender vegetables (from our own garden, of course), while checking on the huge golden turkey that is roasting below. Mmm. Six burners sounds nice.

But - is that just me being swept up in another house fantasy again? Will I really use six burners outside of big events like Thanksgiving and Christmas? Will I miss not having six burners if I don't get them? I don't know. I will say that both Dawg and I like to cook, and like to cook big. Anybody out there with (or missing) a six-burner stove have an opinion?

Now, if we don't get the six-burners, we could get a "short order cook." No, not a big-bellied man in a grimy white apron wielding a spatula, but a long cast-iron plate on which we could fry hamburgers, flip pancakes, sling hash, etc. Oh yeah. That sounds good too.

We could also get - a healthier version of the short order cook - a "plancha". This is a long, flat stainless steel sheet on which we could sear fish, cook vegetables, etc. The Lacanche salesman really tried to push this option, openly mocking our interest in the six-burners ("What are you, cooks?). With the plancha, said he, we'd hardly have to use any oil on our food. We'd be super healthy! Naturally, the plancha costs an additional 1,000 euros or so.

We have one more important thing to decide about the oven: the color. These beauties come in a dizzying array of shades, from "provence yellow" to "terracotta" to "tangerine" to "black." Making these kinds of decisions are fun but tough. At first we were thinking yellow, but the saleman told us that a yellow stove is very five years ago. (The horror!) Now we're thinking "tangerine" or just plain old black. The tangerine is gorgeous and fun, but will it still be so 15 years from now? Black seems classic and cozy, but is it too boring?

Readers with an opinion - please weigh in. I'd love to know how other people make decisions like this!