I celebrated 4th of July on the 5th in Aix-en-Provence with my Italian friends and their American colleagues of ITER, a global collaboration which aims to demonstrate that fusion is an energy source of the future. These scientist expatriates and their partners are now based in the south of France, the host country of the ITER complex which is still in early construction. Partners, for the most part, wives, gave up their careers or put them on hold to follow their husbands for this specialized work.
The party’s hosts graciously lent their apartment for the nationalistic cause. As with most parties, the group congregated all evening long in the kitchen and outside terrace, surrounding a large wooden table laden with goodies and other rustic furniture that the wife ‘just picked up’ at a local flea market, le Marché aux Puces. Not all conversations revolved around shoptalk, although I did notice that the men used terms ‘plasma’ and ‘tokamak’ sprinkled throughout while the women paired up and discussed travelling experiences (stories, tips) and the difficulties they’ve encountered since enrolling their children in French schools.
The Americans did their best to create a sense of America for themselves and their families, setting the mood with music, decorative flags and other props and paraphernalia, all the while partnering with some of the best of France: wine, chocolate, and cheese that positively melts in your mouth. Even one German fellow, Axel, eager to participate in the festivities of his American co-workers, came along, having asked in advance that his mother, visiting from Munich, haul sausages from their home country to share with the group. Keener!
In conclusion: The best part of the American/French party was the German sausages. Ha! How fitting!