Day thirty-five, Thursday 3rd December
Advent Day three
Having already pulled out a sparkling rosé and a red Merlot from my wine advent calendar, I was kind of expecting a crisp dry white to go with my moules frites this evening. Wrong. Behind today’s window was another JP Chenet sparking rosé, but this time, the Ice edition. I have no idea what that means, or if I am supposed to chill it in the freezer rather than the fridge, but it’s getting a 10/10 from me just for the pretty pink wrap over the bottle.
December recipe challenge update
Last night’s veggie chilli tasted as delicious as it smelt when I was cooking it (even if the photo may not look the most appetising) and was the perfect warming meal for a cold day. All plates were cleared (nothing unusual there) and not much leftover, which I was surprised at. I know our portions are not overly large and the recipe said it would feed four or five but shared between any more than the three of us, would have resulted in quite mean meals in my opinion. The Merlot went down very well with it too and I’ve already found another couple of recipes, for equally tasty, comfort food meals, that I’m looking forward to trying in the next few weeks.
Out in the rain
I have been out and about a bit today, just around the village, and although going out in the wind and icy rain isn’t much fun, it was enough to feel like I’ve done something. Thursday is veggie box day and as Espoir Nature have added to the selection of veggies available, we picked up some new flavours today, including parsnips and Brussels sprouts. I think it is only this year that I have seen parsnips for sale in French supermarkets and as we rarely cook a British roast dinner, I don’t think I’ve ever bought them since living in France. I’ve already found a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall parsnip risotto recipe that I might try this weekend and I’m sure some will end up in our soups. Sprouts are obviously a must at this time of year and I’m thinking cooked with lardons, walnuts or some of the chestnuts we picked, roasted, shelled and froze a few weeks ago, will make a tasty dish.
|Village Christmas decorations|
As a small nod to normality I also had a meeting in the village this afternoon where our little team met to fold and staple this month’s village magazine, ready to deliver, and get planning for next month. We were all masked up and keeping our distances, a far cry from the usual hugs, kissing and noisy chatter we are used to, but it was so nice to catch up face to face with people who mean a lot to me. We might not have seen each other’s smiles, but our eyes were smiley and that will have to do. It was also nice to see that the village Christmas decorations have been put up, and our little forest of green Christmas trees has a new addition this year, a jolly snowman, whose expression seemed to suggest I wasn’t respecting adequate social distancing, oops.
The daily baguette or pain (a slightly larger loaf) is certainly something typically French and although supermarkets all sell them, many French people travel quite some distance to buy their preferred bread at a specific boulangerie, having already taste-tested the options locally. I have been to events where there has almost been a walk-out as the bread served was not deemed to be up to standard. As a Brit who eats very little bread, I struggle to understand their passion, but I do so admire it. From my Larousse “A la Française !” book, they have a handy section giving top tips for good bread-eating etiquette.
1) Should you serve your bread ready cut in a breadbasket (corbeille)? This would seem the correct thing to do, but it is acknowledged that between close friends or family, placing the bread on the table is acceptable, however you should cut your piece off with a knife rather than pulling it with your fingers.
2) How should you eat your piece of bread? One thing's for sure, don't bite into it, instead break it into small pieces (petits morceaux) as you need it.
3) If you feel the need for a little buttered bread (tartine) during a meal, never butter the whole slice at once. Place a small knob of butter at the side of you plate and butter each small piece as you eat it.
4) The art of cleaning your plate. We all know that at the end of a meal wiping your plate (saucer son assiette) with a piece of baguette is almost enough to give you French citizenship, but Larousse informs me that for formal meals, using your fork rather than fingers to control the wipe of the plate is far better manners. Obviously, one should never lick the plate (lécher l’assiette)
5) Breadcrumbs (miettes). Remember, no matter how tempting it is to use your finger to pick up the baguette crumbs that will fall around your plate, restrain yourself, especially if you are in polite company.
6) Never place a baguette or pain upside down on the table as this is considered extremely bad luck.