You can take the Troll out of the country ...
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 25, 2010
The Chief Troll, as you may know (and probably don't care), spends the off-season skipping around the planet to eat and drink in really cool towns. It's a nice change of pace from his football-season life, which consists mostly of sitting in his mother's basement eating Buffalo wings and calculating football data on his beer-bottle-cap abacus.
However, you can take the Troll out of the country, but you can't take the deeply inbred Trollness out of the Troll. We learned all of this during a few days in the Rhone-Alps region of southeastern France this week.
Here are a few examples, in photos, of how our resident Potentate of Pigskin simply cannot escape the life of beer-barbecue-and-football-loving shame that haunts him wherever he goes.
BUT HE WAS REALLY GOOD IN THE REGULAR SEASON!
The name "Favre" means only one thing in the United States: the overrated, self-centered, big-game choke artist of American football fame. It's a rare name in the United States.
Turns out that the name "Favre" is as common in France as legless frogs – as the Chief Troll learned this week when he left his hotel in the French Alpine city of Annecy, turned left and immediately crossed Rue President Favre.
We shit you not.
We soon learned that Jules Favre was a 19th-century French political leader. American football fans may be interested to know that Favre earned big votes in the primaries but was famed for his awful decisions in the biggest games of the season, like the time he told Germany's Otto von Bismarck that the French "would not yield an inch" after the Franco-Prussian War.
How'd that work out for ya, Favre? Not well.
Rue? Favre? Sound like a familiar feeling Packers, Jets and Vikings fans?
Of course, in true family fashion, President Favre's devoted supporters blamed everybody else for his mistakes.
GREAT TROLL BEER in WINE COUNTRY
The city of Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of France. The Chief's taxi driver, a ball-busting French dude named Bruno (the Big B), even joked that there are three rivers in town: the Saone, the Rhone and the Beaujolais. The first two are actually rivers. The last of the three is the famous local wine.
But even in Beaujolais-loving Lyon you can find a special beer for Trolls. Cuvee des Trolls is made in the French-speaking part of Belgium and we found it at a really neat beer pub in the center of Old Lyon called Les BerThom near the banks of the Saone. The bar is so old that it looks like it was carved out of a cave. And it has some really good brew. In the upper right corner of the photo, above the sign for Cuvee des Trolls, you can see bottles of classic Belgian brews Orval, Chimay and Rochefort.
A LITTLE SLICE OF REDNECK AMERICA
Annecy is a gorgeous old lakeside town in the French Alps, not far from the Swiss border. Visitors come for the fine food, wine and fresh mountain air. We came for the lone redneck bar in town, the General Lee: Skynyrd and country music on the stereo, cold Bud in the fridge, Confederate flags out front and around the bar, and the Declaration of Independence on the wall. It was about two door fronts down from the corner of Rue President Favre.
The owner even has an American nickname: "Junior" Fargeas. He loves the United States (my experience is that most French do) and he shared a shot or two of his own special American-style cocktail: a mix of three parts Jack Daniel's and one part maple syrup. He has no name for it. But not bad, folks. (P.S.: notice the hot French blond girl checking out the guns. Even old and overweight, the Kid's still got game.)
"THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS"
Here, in a true bit of serendipity, was the license plate on our pal Bruno's van that ferried the Chief Troll and some friends around France. We can't make this stuff up, folks: BBQ 69. Cue Julie Andrews in another European mountainside town: "These are a few of my favorite things."
Let it be known that we also enjoy a nice glass of 432 from time to time, too.
CHEESEBALLS for a CHEESEBALL
French food, at least among many American men, has a reputation for being effete sissified food for chicks and flighty European dudes named Pierre. In truth, it's quite hearty: lots of rich cheese and sausages much like you'd find in Germany or Pennsylvania Dutch country or your very own weekend tailgate.
The local cheeses are really tasty, like these little rounds of a kind of chevre callled Rigotte de Condrieu from the Rhone-Alps region. We bought a whole bunch in Lyon's famous food market, Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse and brought them back to the States, with about a half pound of the local salami called Jesus sec: big thick rounds of pork aged until it's covered in a white must and then hung above the butcher's shop with rope netting.
VIVA la FRANCE! WHERE EVEN THE PARSLEY is FRIED
The food of Lyon, meanwhile, is especially Troll-like. The local restaurants are called "bouchons," which are found only in Lyon. The bouchons are famed for real rich, hearty peasant food. We went to a beautiful bouchon in Lyon called Daniel et Denise (in a Penn State t-shirt, natch) and munched on spectacular neck of veal.
That's right, folks: we ate the neck of a baby cow. It was incredible: tender shreds of slow-cooked meat served with little bits of vegetables in a rich brown sauce. It was garnished with parsley ... crispy, fried parsley. We shit you not: The chefs in Lyon fry even the friggin' parsley. If fried parsley ain't Troll-like, we don't know what is. We have a bunch of recipes froom Daniel et Denise and will try to post some of them soon.
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