More on what’s ‘très délicieux en Provence’

Now that I have established that there are some great places to eat in France, I  thought I should stay on the subject of food.

Lourmarin and St Remy de Provence are two of my favourite places, both with an abundance of delicious restaurants. 

Then there is all that wonderful food to buy! This cheese shop in St Remy has to be the most unbelievably tempting and beautiful cheese I have seen, all hand made and quite ‘incroyable’! 


         

We were happy  shoppers at a Sunday ‘marche’, especially when they served us wine! This prepared us nicely for the Olive oil ‘cave’.

                                                                                                         

A  shopping spree in a restored 18th century bastide tempted us. Lilacs and lemons added to the ambience amongst the somewhat overpriced T shirts, ready to be purchased by ‘beautiful people’ with sagging wallets!

These figs, which were just beginning to make their boughs slightly bend, a promise of  summer ‘luciousness’ beckoning.

Herbs and spices, their fragrance wafting in the warm spring air in Uzès’ wonderful Saturday market……

Provence a haven for the taste buds and all things really ‘délicieux’


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Can the French cook?

Fromage de chèvre à l’échalote

Les légumes frais

L’ail (garlic!)

Les saucisses

For many years I have thought that the reputation that the French have for their cooking is highly overrated……..

People who visit France, or even people who have never visited France, rave about French restaurants, about French chefs and indeed all things food related ‘en France’ but ‘pas mois’. I have always felt somewhat confused that whilst the variety and standard of fresh produce available to purchase is excellent this is not always reflected when you eat out.

As someone who loves to cook and enjoys food I am often disappointed when I eat out, regardless of where I am. I admit, I am not a great fan of small, overpriced portions, even when they are presented as small works of art! At the risk of sounding like a certain Mr Ramsy (who I am also not a fan of!!!), what I enjoy the most is fresh, flavourful food which I wouldn’t perhaps cook myself…

So to get to the point, can the French cook?  I have always enjoyed excellent pizzas in France, cooked to near delicious perfection ‘au feu de bois’ (in a wood fired oven) and I adore their moules, with frites of course, infact most things avec les frites are pretty good, even ‘tartare de bœuf’!! However in general I have found French cuisine to be overly concerned with parts of the animal most of us would prefer not to know about, over fussed with and lacking in fresh vegetables … until now!

In the space of 3 weeks, aided and a betted by my friends ‘Américain’ I truly experienced the type of food, which justifies all the acclaim bestowed upon the French chef!!

We didn’t eat in any Michelin starred restaurants (where, when you are paying a fortune you should be impressed), we ate in moderately priced, local restaurants. Ambience and service ‘par excellence’ not a strange  body part, pizza or frite insight, where taste, flavor, presentation and value were all ‘très délicieux’!

They say a picture speaks a thousand words so I am not going to attempt to do better than show you… But do the French know how to cook, ‘masi oui’! Maybe I had just been going to the wrong places…………..peut-être!

All different and yet the same……

Uzès is bursting into life. The new leaves have gently uncurled, already beginning to form their natural canopy of shade along the streets and in Place aux Herbs. Shops and restaurants, previously closed are opening everywhere and there has been an influx of people for the Easter weekend. It is fun to watch them stroll across the Place aux Herbs, so obviously tourists with their ‘holiday garb’, clutching cameras with that familiar look of curiosity and exploration. Probably looking just as I did when I arrived and probably to the real locals still look!

We have a whole weekend to enjoy together. Chris’ recovery from surgery has been excellent and smooth, right from when the ambulance drove him home and the nightmare of the previous 3 weeks has begun to fade. As so often in life when you are immersed in a drama it seems never ending and then almost as quickly as it turned you life upside down it is over and things gradually resume to normal leaving you with some scars and bruises, the lesson being that nothing lasts forever, good or bad.

Our dear friend Kristen, from California, has come and gone. For 5 days she sprinkled her joy and friendship arriving with her grandmother’s WW11 nurses uniform to help tend the patient!

Together, in-between ‘hospital duty’ we revisited many of my favorite spots, Les Baux en Provence, Pont du Gard and Avignon. Seeing these sights through others eyes, what they notice and comment upon and equally what they don’t see is fascinating.

Pondereing this whilst sipping a coffee outside the Palais des Papes as Kristin was doing the tour, (I declined, a 3rd time in one month seemed excessive!!) As I stirred by cappuccino I first reflected on the very many different ways the French served their coffee. Each time I thought I was ordering the same thing and each time ‘quelle surprise’, so many different interpretations! Café crème, café au-lait, café longue, never mind espressos, americanos, cappuccinos, all presented in a myriad of ways depending on where you ordered and yet not a Starbucks in sight, phew ‘quelle délivrance’! Café crème for instance could come with frothed milk, too much milk, too little milk, with whipped cream, without, in a tall glass, in a mug, or in a cup with a saucer. A plethora of different presentations. In some regard a bit like the people I was watching in the square in front of me. All the same and yet all uniquely different. Many clad in the ‘uniform’ of jeans, but adorned slightly differently, sneakers, ballet flats, boots and heels. With scarves, without, sporting hats or not, smiling, scowling, looking absorbed or perplexed or bored or just exhausted.

Most posing for photos outside a world famous landmark, which they had travelled far and wide to marvel at. A moment held in time to be secreted away, uploaded, downloaded and stored in a private collection of memories. Some to be printed and lovingly mounted, included in a carefully crafted album of vacation reminiscences along with the ticket admission stubs, postcards and other vignettes of treasured travels. Others merely stored within in the bowels of a personal PC, photo collections maybe to be glanced at once or maybe not at all. People doing the same thing but all so different, just like my coffee experiences all different but yet the same. Different people on different days, playing the tourist. Relishing the experience or letting it pass by like a dandelion puff that blows almost unseen in the air right in front of our eyes, sometimes to be captured and noticed sometimes not. The rich tapestry of an every day tourist day unfolding in front of my eyes……