Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Eat Your Dandelions


I’m not sure if I have ever told you about our local newspaper, the SudOuest (the Southwest). It’s about 12 pages long, six of those pages are sports stuff. An American friend of mine said she wouldn’t read this rag because its all about fender benders, tragic car wrecks and group photos of every kind of local club you can imagine. French folks wonder that I find any use for the brief, unsophisticated articles. The thing is that I am not reading the SudOuest for “real” news. I read it for a dip into the daily news around me. I find this “rag" a very valuable part of understanding my life here in France.

My favorite section of the paper is the last page. Here I check out the weather forecast for an overall view of the upcoming week and I glance at which saint day it is. The very last things to read are the little boxes with “It’s the moment for….” and “The trick of the day”. 

Here are some examples of this charming French life version of “Hints from Heloise”. This particular collection of snippets were helpful in getting us through a long, damp, grey winter:

C’est le moment de..
“It’s the moment to eat dandelions. Like lots of wild plants, the dandelion is full of great nutrients: fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin A and B9. Gather them when the young centers are tender, because the dandelion gets bitter with age. The more it is big and green, the more fibrous it is.”

Le truc du jour    The trick of the day….
“Cook some dandelions. Boil them up and they can replace spinach, or add to a soup. Steam them and serve with potatoes. The young leaves of the dandelion can be eaten raw, in a salad, with croutons, eggs and cheese.”

Le truc du jour
“Take care of your rubber boots. With time your rubber boots loose their elasticity. Rub down your boots with a rag dipped in glycerine to give them back their suppleness. And especially avoid letting them dry in a hot place, that risks deforming them.”

C’est le moment…..
“It is the moment to adapt your meals. Now that winter has settled in in France, you have longings for cheese raclette, macaroni and cheese, and you pound on the fondu, but do not let yourself give in to cheese for all your meals! Soups are ideal in this season: they reheat the body and, better yet, they keep one hydrated.”

Le truc du jour..
“A good balanced vegetable soup will contain fast and slow sugars. Marry cooked carrots and navets with leeks and onions. Then add some dried vegetables (lentils, chick peas…) that will stick to the body.”

Le truc du jour..
“You feel a cold coming on, boil 1 litre of water and add a handful of fresh thyme, a slice of lemon, and a few dried elderberry flowers. Let this infuse for 15 minutes, add sweetness with a bit of honey and drink this herbal tea all day long.”

C’est le moment……
“It’s the moment to eat celery-rave. It is full on season of this vegetable low in calories, but rich in vitamins ( especially in vitamin K). You can eat it raw or cooked. To cook cut the root into fourths and grate before cooking.”

Le truc du jour…..
“Make a crumble with celery-rave. (lemon, 20 cl of creme, half a log of goats cheese, 1 onion, 5 slices of cooked bacon, bread crumbs) Slice the goats cheese and place in a gratin dish, spread the diced onions and bacon on the cheese, then the grated celery-rave sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs for the crumble. Cook. (there are no cooking directions - of course you know what to do - right?)”


The SudOuest might be considered fluffy, but that is exactly what I like about it. Le Figaro and Le Monde can carry the heavy load of real news.  For me, reading the SudOuest is all about absorbing a little Frenchness: how the weather will affect next year’s wine, how did the Crusades change the way villages were constructed, and be sure to eat your dandelions.

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