The Cherry Picker

Fresh Cherries Tart

The story takes place in Rennes, Brittany, during the famous summer of 1968; my Dad and his best friend Yves have more or less finished their studies, and the country is still in turmoil after the students and workers’ revolution of the notorious month of May. Youth is still pissed off, there is a hunger for things to change, anger against the more conservative previous generation; the parents. My father was raised in a strict patriarchal environment, as my grandfather was in the military, now stationed in the offices of the Breton Capital where I was to do my military service 25 years later… Well, two days of it anyway, as I managed to get away with it in the most spectacular manner. I didn’t pretend to be suffering from anything, it just happened by telling the truth, the fact that I couldn’t be bothered. In Ireland, we call those guys “Jammy Bastards”… But that is a story for another time. Despite the fact that my Dad’s father was pretty tough, his mother was a gentle soul, balancing the family cocoon quite well. Yves wasn’t as lucky and basically told his own family to fuck off and left to make it on his own… He was soon to be hungry and realised that before he could get a job with all his good qualifications, he ought to get himself sorted through the summer…

Friends: Dad, Yves and beautiful wife Anne

The local hobos took Yves under their wings, to do “The rags and Scraps” (who said recycling was a new idea?). To feed himself, he found a cherry orchard near St Martin’s Canal and filled himself with the plum berries until his stomach was full. Too full maybe, as the pain for overindulging in the fruits of an orchard can be pretty real! I must say, I have been there, with pears and apples, way too young and way too many… But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when the wolf is at the door…

Fresh Cherries

Eventually, my friend got sorted and found a good job before Christmas, something to do with advertising I think. He wanted to repay his friends of the streets who had helped him when he fell on hard times. But it had to be done the Yves’ way! He rang a local “select” bar, the one that turned him down before, when he was hungry, a bar designed to please the “Mickey Mouses” of the city, the little Bourgeoisie of Maman and Papa, posing around a glass of Dubonnet or whatever tipple the privileged youth of the time was indulging in… They didn’t recognize him when he came with his suit, when he booked and paid for a party of 40 at lunch time, a quiche-salad and a glass of red… All paid up front. “ Yes sir, certainly sir…”. I have often imagined the face of the owner, a bent cop from the city, when forty hobos turned up for lunch in his “Select” bar… What a sight!

Le Bastard Street
Full bag of organic cherries from France

I remembered that story the other day, when I was given a big batch of organic cherries, I remembered my Dad’s friend, who is still around and the friendship I have with his daughter, Jenny. We often speak of the stories our fathers were up to, even if their friendship is not as strong as it used to be. They still respect each other and talk the odd times. Like my father with his own writings, Yves is very artistic with painting… They both gave me a great culture of music, literature and “how not to be a complete asshole”… To repay “The Cherry Picker”, I made this lovely tart, because I had to! I had to say thank you for the lovely tales of days gone by, the tales a son craves when he has someone to look up to. I also wanted to say… Thank you for teaching me how to drive on snow and ice… It came handy after after you visited Ireland!

Cherry Tart
Joye car
Yves’s motor Art
Yves Joyes
Mr Yves himself..
Cherry tart flan… In the making…

Recipe coming soon…

Keep Well, Eat Happy

Slán Tamall



6 thoughts on “The Cherry Picker

  1. What I would pay to see the face of the bar owner in that moment :DDDD Great story, by the way. Everybody should have someone that teaches you “how not to be a complete asshole” while growing up. This world would be so much better.

  2. Hey Franck, wonderful tart (really!!!), and great great great story about Yves, and I got to say I love the way you’re telling it 🙂 I just came home exhausted after a long day at work, and your post was just what I needed to put a smile back on my face (i love “old” stories). Have a great evening, and enjoy eating the lovely cherry tart!!!

    1. Hey Dear Sophie, thank you so much, putting a smile on one”s face is what I want to do… People reading my stories from the past and enjoying them makes me really happy. I am off today, but I feel your pain. 🙂 Keep well, thank you et A bientot! 🙂

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