|My Chardonnay. Advent day four|
Day thirty-six, Friday 4th December 2020
Update from Jean Castex, Prime Minisiter
Here are the main points from last night’s address by the French Prime Minister which covered vaccines, the end of confinement and Christmas/New Year celebrations. He was quick to stress that although the vaccine gives us hope, we must also remain prudent as it is not something that will mean the pandemic is over.
200 million doses have been ordered, enough to vaccinate 100 million people. This is more than is needed in France, but they didn’t want to end up with too few.
1.5 million euros has been budgeted for the vaccination programme, and only the vaccines actually used will need to be paid for.
There will be a three-phase roll out of vaccinations, beginning in January with the elderly who live in care homes, their carers and those deemed to be at most risk. This is expected to be around one million people.
Phase two will cover around fourteen million people and include those deemed at risk, as well as healthcare professionals.
Phase three will begin in spring 2021 when the vaccination will be offered to the general public. It will be free to everyone in the French health system to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated, but it will not be made compulsory.
The majority of the vaccines used in France will be made in France at Pfizer-BioNTech based in the Eure-et-Loire or Moderna based in the Indre-et-Loire.
The current period of confinement will end on 15th December, assuming the Covid-19 numbers continue to improve. He is hopeful to reach the point where the average contamination rates are less than 10,000 new cases per day (this still seems to be a scarily high number to me!).
An overnight curfew will come in on 15th December from nine o’clock in the evening until six o’clock in the morning. This will be relaxed for the nights of 24th and 31st December.
Christmas and New Year
There are no firm rules in place for year-end celebrations, but the government are urging everyone to limit gatherings to a maximum of six adults. In addition, should you wish, any number of children can join you.
Advent Day four
Adrian’s ruby beer from the advent calendar yesterday didn’t go down too well. I thought it had a lovely bouquet and was bursting with flavours of cherry and raspberry, he said real men don’t drink fruity beers. He is much happier with today’s offering, an IPA, which will be a real treat for him this evening. My sparkling rosé was OK and today I have my first white wine, a Chardonnay.
Ed will be cooking tonight, something to accompany my Chardonnay, with chicken and his selection of vegetables. I did a quick stock take as although we’ve always included a good selection of veggies in our diet, I’m not sure we’ve ever had as much choice in the house as we have today. Thanks to a combination of our garden, Pearls parents, the local veggie pannier and some recent great deals at the supermarkets, we have, onions, shallots, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, celeriac, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, flat beans and courgettes, plus what is in the freezer. I am sure he can come up with something tasty from that list.
We had a few errands to run today and managed to get out early, before the rain began, and again late afternoon when although cold, it was dry, and the sky was showing a hint of a sunset. Enough with the horrid weather December, please. It would appear the first of the month heralded a massive shift in our weather, and it just seems to be getting worse. Gone are the blue skies and crisp, clear days, replaced with cold, icy rain, gloom, wind and cloud. Adrian has a theory that the weather on the first day of the month gives an accurate idea about what the rest of the month will bring. So far, he seems to be right and today ended up being a three-coffee day just to try and brighten our moods.
France Trivia advent calendar, day four, the cheese course (fromage)
Is a cheese course necessary? It is according to food gourmet Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) who is quoted as saying “un repas sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un oeil” (a meal without cheese is like a beauty who is missing an eye). Today, however, Larousse says that although the cheese course enables us to prolong a lovely meal, it is not totally necessary, something Ed would agree with 100%.
The cheese board itself should be a small wooden tray or a large plate and must either contain a minimum of three varieties, or one whole cheese. The perfect mix is a soft cheese, a hard cheese and either a sheep (brebis) or goat (chèvre) cheese. Only ever bring the cheese to the table as you are about to serve, so as not to inconvenience your guests with its odour. Ed would agree with that 100% as well.
Cutting French cheese. Always cut the cheese to match its shape, this will ensure you don’t leave just the rind for the next person, and always take some of the rind with your piece. Before putting down the cheese knife either clean it against the side of your plate, or a small piece of bread, after all, no one wants to mix the tastes of Brie or Roquefort when they make the next cut. Although we only have chèvre and a hard cheese, I still think I will put together a small cheeseboard for us tonight.