Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blog Fodder #6

This weeks topic was brought to us by non other than Kim, over at Kimbofo. Kim asks
"what is your most memorable meal? Why?"
Ah bless, you know me, I'm not going to be able to stop at just one meal don't you? There have truly been soooooooo many ... fabulous memories where the food, company, scenery and the happiness all intertwine in my head and simply thinking back makes me smile, one of those private smiles that I don't need to share or explain to anyone. Ok ... here goes!
I remember, very faintly, a memory from my first ever holiday in France, actually France was part of the journey not the holiday as we were travelling through France on the way to Spain. It was the summer of 1976, British readers of a certain age will remember it as the drought year ~ not a drop of rain for 6 weeks, standpipes on the corners of streets for water ... well I missed most of it as we went to Spain for a month. It was quite an undertaking in those days and the drive down the RN20 from Le Havre to Tossa de Mar took nearly 3 days in itself. On the second night we stopped near Lalbenque just south of Cahors* and pulled into a motel, little cabins in a huge garden full of oak trees, fairy rings and cicadas. That evening, we went to the restaurant for dinner and not speaking any French** my mum pointed to a menu and waited with more than a little trepidation!
The starter came and it was incredible a huge pot of French Onion Soup, bread and herbs and onions had formed a savoury crust which completely sealed the top of the pot and mum had to cut through the crust to serve the soup. I remember the latent summer heat, the song of the cicadas and most of all I remember the sound as the spoon went through the crust, apparently my face was a picture and I remember eating a bowl of the gorgeous oniony, garlicky broth with its very own chunk of crust floating on the top. I have no idea what we had after that, no memories of dessert ... but anytime I am served Soupe à l'Oignon gratinée*** my first thought is for that faraway meal in Quercy.
Ok, 1 more I think ... what'll it be? Nearly 15 years ago I worked in a tourist office in the Médoc, South West of France and whilst there met a couple called Mickey and Françoise and their young daughter Mélissa. They were friends of the friends of my parents that I rented from and as such I saw and socialised with them a great deal. That winter they decided to get married and my mum**** and I went out for the wedding (with Tony ... the prospective son-in-law of the people I was staying with! It gets complicated doesn't it?) The wedding began on the Friday evening with a party (drinks and a few snacks) to decorate the salle de fête and then on the Saturday morning the celebrations really swung into action.
The wedding was at 10am and between the 2 ceremonies ~ legal and religious ~ we eventually left the town square at about 11.30. Off we went to a salle down by the lake for apéritifs for 200 ~ tiny little quiches, hot cheese souffles and tomato & anchovy tarts washed down with vin rouge, Kir Médocains and bucketfuls of Scotch whisky. I was already weaving by the time we left there at 1.30 for the wedding breakfast ~ a smaller more intimate gathering, with only 110 people sitting down to eat.
We sat down at 2.00 to a starter of salad Landaise ~ warm duck, crisp croutons, lettuce and a mustardy vinaigrette served with huge chunks of bread and then we danced. And then the second course arrived ~ crisp puff pastry parcels stuffed with creamy ris-de-veau.***** Then the groom borrowed a microphone and toured the whole hall introducing everyone, asking them questions, sharing little anecdotes, requesting a turn ~ my mum, Tony and I sang Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ... the only Welsh song we all knew apparently ~ and then the fish course was served. I don't remember the fish course except that it was followed by a trou normand ~ a tiny dish of lemon sorbet swimming in Calvados, to cleanse the palate and work as a digestif.

Then the dancing, lubricated by bucketfuls of the local Médoc and Moulis really began, old-fashioned dancing ~ waltzes and tangos and polkas ... which of course gave everyone an appetite for the main course ~ whole goose breasts, roasted over sarments ... the dried clippings of the vines that surround this area. And we danced and ate, ate and danced and by the time coffee was brought around and the tables were cleared it was 8pm. My god the French can eat ~ 6 hours for one meal and my god what a meal! But of course the tables were only being cleared so that they could be relayed ... for the evening buffet and more guests. I got home at midnight. But our hosts stayed and shared a breakfast of onion soup (yes that old favourite again) with the bride and groom at 6am.

The next day was the clear-up party ... what constitutions they have ~ a little paté and rillettes, some saucisson, a few dozen oysters, steak grilled (just) outside over the sarments, dancing until midnight before the long drive home. But what a meal and what a privilege to see into French life like that.

* Little did we know that 25 years later this would become my mother's weekly shopping destination.
** Yep, not one of us spoke one word of French. Pas du tout!
*** Delia's got a great recipe if I've set your saliva glands a-sweating! It's exactly like the one my MIL makes.
**** Dad was still in treatment and a booze soaked French wedding was hardly the place to take him.
***** Worth following the link just to see how badly an automatic webpage translator can really be :o)


Atyllah said...

I have to say, my most memorable meals have also been in France - well, okay, there were a couple of sublime one's in Tuscany too but the best meals ever - one in a little roadside restaurant somewhere near Tours and the other in St Malo - yummy, yummy, yummy - those French really know how to cook!

Fizzy said...

Phew and you can remember it all!!! Boy you are good!.

I taught my first Frenc h lesson today (twice- 2 ks1 classes)Quel age et tu?

Teena said...

I was in Paris seven years ago and all I ate was hotdogs, pizza and chocolate croissants. Ha!

Thanks for stopping by mine :)

Anonymous said...

You've got a memory like a steel trap! lol

(OK, is blogger poohing it's pants again today?? I'm having so much trouble getting into blogger comments, and then when I do, it won't sign me in, grrrr - today i shall select "other". Right, that didn't work, so we're onto anonymous lol)

Anonymous said...

oops, now I can comment, I missed out the first half LOL

here's the first half of my comment:

"Bonjour! (and yeah, that's about the extent of it from me lol)

I'm so glad you have links all through your posts, otherwise I wouldn't understand half of what you say sometimes lol

I'm going to have to think about what my most memorable meal is, I've never had to think on that before. I doubt I'm going to be able to come up with anything in such detail like you have though. "

My God, Blogger is making me pull teeth this morning!


Jenny Ryan said...

Wow! Now I'm hungry :)

Anonymous said...

The Fizzaloo and I want to know how you managed to move your sidebar from the right to the left. (Actually she wants to know more than I do ok?)

Fizzy said...

I, of course CAN comment properly don;t ask me why.... probably because I am gifted and talented (G+T)

Fizzy said...

It was her idea NOT mine honestly

Anonymous said...


please tell Fizzy that as gifted and talented as i AM, I am still managing to comment regardless of blogger problems.

My voice will not go unheard!

Fizzy said...

I know her voice will go unheard. can you hear her calling ..... all the way from NZ?

Anonymous said...

I think that due to blogger and it's problems, I shall just have to put my new post in here.

I shall begin....*cracks knuckles*...

There was this one time at band camp...I met a lady called Fizzaloo, and oh my goodness, well she..

oh, better not...

Fizzy said...

OH well she HAD NOT TOO
crafty woman sneaking a comment in when you think that I think that blogger is having a blog fart!

Le laquet said...

Atyllah ~ ah, crepes in St Malo ... wonderful. I remember a meal there too!

Fizzy ~ J'ai trente-sept ans mais je veux avoir vingt-sept ans encore!

Teena ~ what a shame, mind you pain au chocolat are lovely.

Fizzy & Ms Anonymous ~ !!!!!! What? Good grief, what are you like?

Fizzy said...

You want to be/feel 27!!!! so do I

Rob said...

I've only ever been to France when I've been driving to Belgium so I've never seen that much of it.

This said, I love to get a baguette, some cured meat and some cheese and make fresh sarnies in the port after visiting the hypermarkets - nothing quite like it!

Claire said...

Great memories. The amount of food you got at that wedding reminded me of a wedding I went to in Greece...and Easter in Greece...and pretty much every event in Greece...it was all about the food!

Mine is now up!

Fi said...

Great post Jo!

Have fronted up to Blogfodder in the hope they let me in. It's been a while since there's been a good meme blog going :)

Tangled Noodle said...

What a marvelous experience and the fact that you can remember vividly the food, people, music, emotions, etc. is a testament to that! I've been to some great parties before but nothing like this yet!