Un fou pour le Pont-l’Évêque

by jemma margaret

This title requires quite a bit of unpacking.

Unlike most of my readers (hello readers!), I was not raised Catholic.

Though I gradually learned the Bible plot, I am completely at a loss when it comes to the rank and file. I know the Pope is at the top (hello Pope!–wouldn’t that be awesome?), but is a cardinal better than a bishop? is a priest equivalent to a clergyman? are there hierarchies of nuns?

Despite the Revolution(s), France is still a pretty Catholic country as witnessed by the public holiday that is the Ascension. The Ascension falls (no pun intended) right next to V-E Day, which is also a public holiday. They call the various early May holidays (which I believe includes May 1st as well), les ponts. As far as I can tell, this name evokes the fact that the days are isolated between real working days, whereas in the States we choose to situate our observed holidays on Mondays or Fridays. No bridges.

Today my cheese lady sold me a bridge. It connects the island of Manhattan to King’s County and it was built in 1883. Just kidding! She sold me le Pont-l’Évêque, a cheese named after a town in Normandy named after a bishop’s bridge (the last part is speculation).

Speaking of bishops, in l’échecs the piece that we Americans call a bishop is known as le fou in French. Crazy, right?