Thursday, August 18, 2016

Birthday in the hospital

This August, we celebrated her 95th birthday, in an hospital.

Mamig has been living alone since grandpa passed away more than 10 years ago.
She was someone very independent, enjoyed fine cuisine, easy going.
She went to US to visit us when she was 82, and hiked the Jura montain with us at 89 year old.
But she is getting old.
She doesn't sleep well anymore during the nights.
Her skin becomes sensitive, at one point if she bumped into something/someone, she bled.
She has to abandon her daily walk around the beach, as she needs clutches now.
Most importantly, she has partially lost her memory. She couldn't remember if she has eaten, or someone came to see her, or what happened a few minutes ago.
Her doctor declared that she was not capable of living alone anymore, and instructed her to go to the hospital. After hospital, she would have to stay around one month in a recovery center, while trying to place her in an old folk's home. She was not keen with the idea, she wanted to go back to her house.

Mamig has 4 children, one passed away at young age, and the other three are all retired.
In some Asian countries, she would stay with one of the kids, or they take turn, or they hire a maid to take care of her.
Things are done differently in France. They are more in the "Pay it forward" method, it is not a norm that children take in old age parents with them. Everyone has their own life, parents do not want to squat or disturb their children either.

So, it lays two solutions:
She goes back to her house, and hires a nurse and house assistant as she shouldn't stay alone.
She goes to an old folk's home.

My in laws have checked out the two solutions, and discovered that hiring a domestic helper would cost her 300€/day. Someone told me that her coworker hired one, costed her 6000€/month, and this coworker had to fill the gap when the helper was on vacation, and still needed to do some house chores. Labor cost is expensive in France, if you add all the charges you have to pay to the government. In Malaysia, some families hired Indonesian helpers, they probably cost RM1000/month, around 300€/month. As for the old folk's home, it would cost 2000€ to 3000€/month, depending on the location.

At the meantime, Mamig's health improved in the hospital, and another doctor declared that she could eventually go back to her house, with condition that she has someone to take care of her. In the past, she refused to have nurses, helpers but now she has no choice. She would have to accept that a nurse passes by everyday to make sure she takes her medicines, then she has to pay a service that would send people to buy her groceries, do her housework and cook for her. These people would come and go, unlike the domestic helper who would stay the whole day with her.

Celebrating her birthday in the hospital. She was shocked and upset that she could only drink so little champagne. She enjoyed wine and champagne very much, but for her health, she would have to cut it.

Finally happy after we poured a little more champagne into her glass. The hospital food was awful, we had to force her to eat some.

We asked ourselves what could we do for Mamig. Since she was a good cook and enjoyed good food, hubby decided to bake her a cake.

Gâteau Nantais, a cake from Nantes, with the surface covered with rum and sugar mixture. Since Mamig loves rum, she loved it. Hubby also cut the cake into several small pieces, wrapped them with plastic so that she would eat one per meal.

After the hospital visit, we agreed that we would meet again, soon, in her house. Mamig, get well soon.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

How many tableware used for a French meal

We had a gathering in my in laws house. After lunch, they were heading to the beach so I decided to stay and handle the dishes. I have always thought that French use a lot of tableware for dining, so here I'm counting how much we used just for one meal, for a family of 6 adults + 2 kids.

Glassware: 8 wine glasses and 5 water/juice glasses. French do not mix up drinks in the same glass. Every type of drink has its own specific glass. If we drink champagne we would use tall champagne glass. During this meal, some people drunk water/sparking water so we needed wine glasses + water glasses.

Still for drinking : 2 water jars + a wine opener.

8 plates for dining, + 2 to serve food.

For dessert we had cakes and fruit salad, so we needed 8 bowls (for fruit salad), 8 small plates + 8 small spoons.

After dessert was coffee time. 6 cups + 1 small spoon (for the person who added some sugar in the coffee).

The cutlery: 8 knifes and 8 forks + some for cutting and cooking

We had French beans so the pot to boil the beans, drainage + a pan to fry it.

A salad spinner

The pan for potatoes

We had BBQ so a tray and cutlery for the preparation.

So for this meal, we used 8 wine glasses, 5 glasses, 6 cups, 2 water jars, 10 big plates, 8 bowls, 8 small plates, 8 knifes & forks and 9 small spoons, 1 pot, 2 pans, a salad spinner and varies cutlery. Wasn't it a lot just for one meal? And this time was simply BBQ and we bought the cakes, else there would be more kitchenware. 

My in laws do not want dishwasher so I washed everything manually. I don't mind when everyone is helping around, it becomes a convivial moment where we continue the conversations. But washing all these alone, it was a lot of work and I felt that it was not environmental friendly. I don't know what would the French react if I tell them to cut down the usage of glasses or plates, for example using only one glass for all kind of drinks, or using one plate for all kind of dishes (main, side, cheese, salad, dessert). They would probably throw me out of the country since gastronomy comes with fancy tableware, and fine cuisine is in the blood of a lot of French people.