Sunday, 1 February 2009


more fluffy snow flakes, temps minus 10

Actually the official forecast says minus 16 but we just came back from brunch (more eating? honestly! No self restraint) and it was fairly mild.

they've closed off a couple of blocks of rue Saint-Jean and are having a small hockey game, some music and these huge puppets - really quite macabre - wandering up and down. Look faintly Venetian. Half Venetian, half menacing.

One big pasttime at the Quebec Winter Carnival is to buy a hollow plastic walking stick and fill it with Caribou. Not the animal, nor even the meat - but this unholy alcohol. You can pick it up in lots of places, but particularly along Sainte-Therese street...or you can make it yourself out of some combination of Port/Brandy/Wine/vodka/Maple Syrup. I suspect this is what fuels Bonhomme. When I worked here years ago there was a fellow who was famous for making the best Caribou. I seem to remember he lived in the lower town, the basse ville and was named 'Ti Jean or something. 'Ti' is a Quebec diminutive for 'petit', so in effect it's a small diminutive. Never mind.

Perhaps someone reading this - Hum?? - knows the guy or the story.

The wonderful Linda Lyall, who designs and manages my website and newsletter, sent out the February newsletter today. We're giving away 2 souveniers from the Carnaval. Just tiny little gifts.

Such fun to hear back from people - and such beautiful messages. Supportive, enthusiastic, kind. And helping to celebrate the New York Times list. Honestly I don't think I will ever recover from the surprise and delight of that. And such fun to celebrate with you.

We rose late, had brunch out - bought some pastries for later (eclairs, Jesuites, escargots d'orange, and a pear and chocolate thing) and will read the papers, respond to the emails and later on watch the Super Bowl. We're rooting for Arizona because I was just there and I feel an affinity for them. And it was such fun to hear the amazement of everyone in Phoenix that they should be in the Super Bowl!

I've placed some calls and am hoping to have a few private tours of historic sites next week. I'm seeing more clearly what the crime will be, where, and how far back the crime (and the memory) reaches. Such fun. It means I have a more focussed search - though still trying to keep my options open in case something even more exciting and disturbing and rich presents itself.

I do know this - we're going to have great fun, you and me. Writing it, and reading it!


Anonymous said...

I would love to taste some Caribou and see how it compares with the concotion I tasted so many years ago at a Carnival in Bahia (Brazil)
It was soooo smooth: cachaza and pinapple juice, until it hit you. Oh boy....

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Norma,

I suspect if you have a chemical set you can brew some of your own. Good luck!

nightreader said...

Hi Louise
First, Congratulations on making New York Times bestseller list! Exciting!
Second, enjoy your time at Carnaval, what a great time to be in Quebec. And what a great setting for your book.
All the best!
Betty Gelean

Anonymous said...

Congrats on making the New York TImes List! Must inform all the bushkins here in Montreal, vat you say they already know?
They don't ALL know, cos I haven't had time to tell them yet!
In case you've forgotten, we met at the McGill Bookstore - was it really 2 years ago? OR is my memory failing me? I wrote a story for The Suburban about you. WE talked about Jim Duff and the CBC and I gushed so much over your life I embarrassed myself!
Have fun at Caranval!!! and have one or two pastries for me, will you?
Irene Chwalkowski

Cece said...

Alas-we too are Cardinal fans, despite living in PA-but they aquitted themselves well. As John Madden said (and I wrote down-SUCH a great line!) "The margin between winning and losing is the biggest margin there is..."
We could have all used some Caribou.

humble.pie said...

i don't know ti-caribou de la basse ville but i'm partial to this caribou to strengthen the heart & regulate blood pressure.

- macerate wild quebec hawthorn berries in brandy from september until carnival.
- strain.
- 6 parts brandy, 3 parts 190-proof grain alcohol, 1 part maple syrup ambré.

also good for flame-throwing.

nightreader said...

Humble pie, that sounds fascinating! I wonder what we could substitute for Quebec hawthorne berries...
And if by any strange chance I didn't like the taste of it, I could always light my firewood with it, I'm sure it would be more ecological than stuffing the fireplace with paper and kindling! Haha. Great sounding recipe!