|Advent day eight Biere de Noel and Bordeaux red|
Day forty, Tuesday 8th December 2020
Advent day eight
I’ve failed with my wine advent calendar and we are only just beginning week two. Finishing yoga last night at ten o’clock in the evening, on a chilly day, really didn’t feel like the best time to be popping open an Ice Edition sparkling white, so I poured a small glass of Merlot instead. The Ice Edition is staying put in the fridge and I might enjoy it with breakfast on Christmas Day. Tonight, I will be drinking a Bordeaux red and Adrian has a Christmas beer, ho ho ho!
The UK has begun its Covid-19 vaccination programme, while the rest of the world watches the roll out with interest, a bit like a nosey neighbour peering into your living room window. My news feed in France was all in a jitter last night as news broke that the Covid-19 numbers are not going the way the government would have liked. Jérôme Salomon, the director general of health reported that the level of infections has stopped falling and the number of people hospitalised has increased, for the first time in three weeks. He warned that we are entering a period of very high risk. The combination of the damp, the winter temperatures, indoor living and Christmas and New Year celebrations will be an ideal breeding ground for the virus and this winter will be a difficult one as it will continue to circulate. The US and Canada have already shown a rise in cases following Thanksgiving, even if celebrations were more low key than normal. The plan to lift confinement in France completely on 15th December, might need amending and the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, will be letting us know more on Thursday evening.
December recipe challenge
I was all set to try out a new recipe for this evening, Mary Berry’s Shepherd’s pie dauphinois, a comforting meaty base layer with a creamy, sliced potato topping that looked mouth-wateringly delicious. It wasn’t long, however, before I’d found myself veering so far from her recipe, that I aborted the mission entirely and came up with my own. We will be tucking into a winter vegetable and minced beef cottage pie this evening, with a creamy potato and sweet potato mash, and I’ll leave Mary’s recipe to try another time. As Tuesday night is normally veggie lasagne night, I have at least broken from the routine with a meaty treat that will still be warm and comforting.
Albert Camus (1913-1960)
I bought myself to a new kindle book this morning, The Plague, by Albert Camus; a modern classic from the French author, written in the years following the Second World War. This book, about a deadly plague that condemns its victims to a horrifying death, forcing the townspeople into quarantine, where they have to deal with fear, isolation and claustrophobia, not only seemed topical, but an ideal opportunity to increase my knowledge of one of France’s noted writers. My Larousse guide says that in his works he conveys the feeling of the absurdity of human destiny, born from the shock of the Second World War, and The Plague is in part, an allegory of France's suffering under the Nazi occupation.
|Foie gras served as a starter at our village Christmas meal 2019|
France Trivia advent calendar, day eight, le foie gras
Foie gras is the smooth liver pâté of a duck or goose, who has been raised on a high fat diet specifically to enlarge their livers. It might be a bit of a controversial topic, but as foie gras is a delicacy served in most French households over the festive period, I felt I had to include it in my France Trivia facts. It is a regional speciality that has been produced in south-west France since the 19th century and over a million tonnes are sold each year.
Larousse tells me that for the best flavour, the foie gras must be served chilled, but never too cold. Ideally place it in the fridge the night before (it usually comes in a tin or preserved in a sealed jar), and then open it an hour before serving. To cut it cleanly, use a knife dipped in hot water. Foie gras etiquette says to eat it from your fork, never spread it on slice of bread, although placing a small amount on a mouthful of bread is acceptable. Never eat it with butter or with a vinaigrette dressing and if you enjoy sweet and sour combinations, a little onion or fig chutney work well. Traditionally foie gras is served with a sweet white such as Sauternes.