Life is different here.
Sometimes it differs in glaring ways: language, eating habits, food, and sometimes in subtle ways, such as check writing.
When we first moved to Ireland we did all the normal things of any move: notified the post office, changed our address, opened a bank account and ordered new checks.
Expecting to receive our checks in the mail we were a little surprised when the local bank person called and and said our checks had arrived and when would we be by to collect them.
We went down the next morning. We were given our new bankcards and a book of 20 checks.
I glanced at it, assumed that they were the temporary ‘starter’ checks (sure took long enough!), and asked when we would be getting the rest of them.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“The rest of the check order” I explained.
“We usually get 800 at a time and there are only 20 here.”
She looked at me in astonishment and said “And what would you be wanting so many checks for? You can only write one at a time. We’ll send you more when you need them.”
Unable to think of a quick rejoinder for this bit of logic, we left.
Later that morning, after we had done the shopping and were standing in the check-out line, I noticed that no one used checks. They all used the bankcard.
In the U.S. we wrote out checks for everything.
I never had cash. Lunch at McDonald’s? A check for $3.59.
The bankcard was only for cash withdrawals. This was different.
So, in an effort to not be the conspicuous ‘Yanks’ we started using our bankcards. All bills (electricity, phone, etc.) are paid by direct debit and we didn’t have any credit cards (well, we had one with a 400 Punt limit on it ($600.00) – what’s the point?).
The only time we used a check was to pay the fuel man when he filled our underground tank or to order something through the post.
We still had half of the 20 checks left a year later.
When we moved to Andorra it was the same, a book of 20 checks and a bank card.
The big difference in Andorra is that it is illegal not to pay your bills….illegal, in that you go to jail…big time…
It is illegal not to have the money in your account when the bill is payable or the check written.
If you owe someone money you give him a check and he can take it to the bank for immediate cash or he could just take the invoice and go to the bank. The bank would take the money out of your account and pay the debt, without your specific knowledge or approval – you owed it, after all.
Here in France there are 2 differences: when you write the check the amount goes on the top line, the payee on the second…most confusing, and one uses the PIN numbers with the bank cards.
My card rarely leaves my possession. After shopping, I insert it into the machine, wait 5 seconds, type in my number, the transaction is complete and I remove the card and take my receipt. All in all it’s a very modern, high-tech transaction. What is taking the rest of the world so long?
Oh yes, check re-orders are not necessary. In Andorra and here in France, after using up 15 of the 20 checks we receive a call from the bank asking us to please stop by and pick up our new book of 20 checks…
About once every 2 years.
You should eat this more often….
Kedgeree was, traditionally, made with smoked haddock and served as a part of a large breakfast. We smoked the salmon, using a kettle grill, for about 20 minutes. You could use purchased smoked salmon, if you prefer, but it should be hot-smoked, American-style rather than the wet-smoked, Scotch or Irish style. Gravlax would not work.
Smoked Salmon Kedgeree
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 cup chicken stock
8oz (250gr) smoked salmon or see below
2 eggs, hard boiled
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Greek or plain yogurt, or cream
2 tbs snipped fresh parsley substitute 1 tbs dried
1 tbs lemon juice
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and sauté, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes. Add stock, cover and cook for length of time on package.
Hard boil eggs.
Thinly slice onion. Heat remaining 1 tbs of butter and oil in large nonstick skillet. Add onions and sauté until tender and transparent.
To assemble: Peel eggs and cut into eighths. Cut salmon into large pieces. When onions are ready add rice to skillet along with yogurt, lemon and parsley. Mix well. Add salmon and eggs to rice and, mixing gently, heat through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
8oz (250gr) salmon fillet, one or two, depending on size
1 tbs dill weed
1 tsp course salt
Sprinkle salmon with dill weed, then salt.
If using charcoal: Put some charcoal in the barbecue, off to one side and light it. If you are using small, commercial wood chips, put them in water to soak. When the coals are glowing, add the fish – either in a basket or on a grill mat of some sort, to the other side – in other words, not over the coals. Throw some wood chips on the coals and cover. Check it halfway through and add more wood chips if it has stopped smoking. It’s done when the fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 – 20 minutes.
To use a gas grill: Only light one side of the grill. Wrap the soaked wood chips loosely in foil. Poke a few holes in the foil and place on the grill. Keep the fish off of direct heat and the grill cover closed and vented or propped open an inch or so.