Sunday, November 30, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
We are pulling our anchor out of the Dordogne mud and heading up to Paris this week. The big occasion is sharing Thanksgiving with a gang of jet-setting American friends. Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner is planned for a little fish stew and scallops in a Provencal restaurant. There will be no turkey on the menu and certainly not any of my favorite holiday treats-- cranberry sauce, Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. The upside is that the comfort of old friends will bring the spirit of Thanksgiving to our table.
Next sprang to mind all the really “disgusting” things that we like to eat here. Pate made with pig snouts, blood sausage, and all sorts of flavors of dry sausages. I decided to leave these delicacies off the list. A little bit too French. Well, then there is the train ride, I am afraid the pungent odors of these wonderful foods might seep out of their packaging and cause a stampede, either to throw me off of the train or to steal my goodies. The same goes for the creamy, just so salty, goat cheese made by Louise. And what about the walnut oil that is being milled and pressed as I write. That’s a bit too heavy. Hmm, maybe I’ll tuck in a little bottle to sprinkle that unforgettable earthy taste onto a salad and steamed vegetables.
Our final contribution to this pot luck will be chocolate. Chocolates created by a MOF, Meilleur Ouvrier de France. This designation is given to only the most extraordinary artisans in France. We have the good fortune to have an exquisite chocolate shop down the road in Perigueux. This is another purchase that has to wait until the last minute. The very dainty shop keeper will fill up a box of fresh assorted chocolates, tie the box with a ribbon and I will wait with anticipation to watch the delight in my friend’s eyes as they taste these small gourmet treats. Good things come in small packages!
It will have taken a while to collect my offerings for our communal dinner, but that is half the fun. Spending a moment visiting with these local artisans, watching the flocks of birds run around the free range farms, catching a glimpse into times gone by. These farmers and artisans are a major part of the region's economy, folks keeping family recipes and techniques alive, hard workers that preserve our rural landscape.
Here at home, on many nights most everything on our plates comes from within 15 miles of Bourdeilles. It will be a great pleasure to share these same items a bit further on up the tracks in the City of Lights. Our friends will not be in the heart of our beloved region, but they sure will get a taste of the flavor of our lives. The foods that are the heart of French tradition for all celebrations.
La Bastide d’Opio
Vins des Pyrenees
Musee Gustave Moreau
Chateau de Monbazillac
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
November 1st is big holiday in France. It is Toussaint, All Saints Day. Well it’s actually a mixture of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, but those are details for the church to quibble over. It’s a day when people head to the cemetery.
There are two common architectural aspects of all French cemeteries: great grey walls surround a great grey army of tombstones. Even the smallest cemetery has a formidable presence of stone; even the grandest is a place of earthbound drear. Until Toussaint! Big and little, threatening or dreary, all the cemeteries of France are gloriously filled with flowers on this day. To honor their ancestors, no one goes to the cemetery empty handed. Some folks will arrive with plastic flowers that will last until next year’s visit, but most will arrive with an overflowing pot of brightly blooming chrysanthemums. The crosses and tombstones of the cemetery will soon glow from the reflected color of this expansive autumnal bouquet.
For insights into french traditions and a great site for learning french I encourage you to check out Laura K. Lawless -http://www.lawlessfrench.com