Sunday, February 2, 2014

Food Glorious Food

French Village Diaries Food Boulangerie croissants coffee France
My Sunday morning breakfast
It would be true to say food is a very important thing in my life. I wake up thinking of breakfast, can’t wait for the mid-morning delight that is my espresso coffee and square of dark chocolate that bridges the gap to lunch and if I get to mid afternoon without planning dinner I’m in a panic. Today has been a real delight for my taste buds that started with my early morning walk to the boulangerie, the smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the almost empty village. It is my weekly foodie treat to make a Sunday morning pilgrimage to buy fresh croissants for our breakfast and a forêt noire (black forest gateau) for Ed’s lunch dessert. There is nothing quite like the disappointment of getting there too late and finding no croissants left, so I aim to be there before the eight o’clock Angelus has rung out from the church bells.

My neighbour, who is an early riser, stopped me for a quick chat where we thanked each other, me for the locally picked and home cooked snails she had given us, her for the goose eggs we had given them. Food is never far from our conversations and she was glad we had enjoyed the snails and described in detail how she had prepared the eggs. I mentioned to her that we were off to collect a butchered half pig to fill our freezer for the coming year. She immediately recounted a childhood memory of joining her Father on a Sunday (the only day he wasn’t at work) and taking the pony and trap to a nearby village where they would collect a whole, live pig from the farmer. She pointed to the corner of the yard where it would have been slaughtered and then shared between the extended family. As freezers were a long way off, certain cuts would be preserved in salt and stored in large terracotta jars in their cool, dark store cupboards to see them through the winter.

French Village Diaries Food France Pig
Some of our half pig

Our morning was then spent bagging up the ten joints, 36 chops and 26 steaks ready for freezing. We browned off some of the belly pork and the ribs and put them in the slow cooker with onions, carrots, garlic and bay leaves for a tender casserole this evening. We will be making use of the new meat mincer Ade bought me for Christmas and mincing the off cuts for meatballs and adding the kidney to some for paté.

Today is also Candlemas Day or La Chandeleur in France. I wrote about this last year, see here, but French tradition says we must cook pancakes today, toss them with a coin held in our writing hand and if we catch them the family will be prosperous all year. We will have our pancakes for pudding tonight, smothered in a delicious homemade raspberry jam given by another French neighbour in exchange for one of our pumpkins. 

French village Diaries France Food pancakes La Chandeleur
La Chandeleur

Talking of food and France, Rick Stein's hardcover book Rick Stein's French Odyssey is currently available on Amazon for only £5 (please note this price is unlikely to stay for too long). With narrative from the canal barge trip he took from Bordeaux to The Mediterranean, snippets of his travels in France to accompany each of the 100 plus recipes and lots of beautiful photos, this book has had pride of place in my kitchen for many years.

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