Sitting on a wooden bench at the back of a church full to the brim with merry parishioners, my stomach contorts and grumbles as it struggles to digest. The priest warms up his voice and I try to remember the various items of food I’ve wolfed down in the last few hours. The list is far too long: oysters with lemon, a rich herby snail butter, foie gras (duck-liver pâté) and Yule log washed down with champagne! The French version of indigestion, appropriately called a crise de foie ('religious crisis'), is imminent - bring on Lent!
In English I'd say that I’m stuffed (like a turkey/ to the gills). The Spaniards turn purple from having eaten so much (ponerse morado ). I turn to my Polish neighbour who, between verses, tells me teasingly that something is weighing on my stomach (Cos mi lezy na watrobie). Either the host is stuck in my throat, or it’s the priest’s homily I’m finding hard to swallow.
Was ist Dir über die Leber gelaufen ?(what's gone over your liver?) the Germans would ask, concerned; the emotion most associated with the liver is anger. One of the seven deadly sins! Plunged into the religious silence of prayer, I regret not having been to confession: I eat my own liver as in the regretful Italian expression mangiarsi il fegato goes. Anger and greed - no matter what I say now, it’s straight to Hell, without even a chance to repent in Purgatory!