Merci Mr. Poubelle
The marvelously mundane and the beautifully banal part of life in France
Tarte Fine aux Potimarron, Jambon et Oignon at Camont on a fine Autumn day.
I am prodded awake by a rumbling engine, a squealing brake and a barking sleepy dog at this dark hour, around 5:30 or so, every Friday.
La poubelle a été collectée. The garbage has been picked up.
The French word poubelle almost sounds pretty, right? I am grateful that my rural country road is just wide enough for the large city truck that empties my plastic bin and collects the garbage I accumulate each week. Recycling gets collected too. Except the glass-all the bottles and jars have to be carted away to one of the many recycling bins or centers nearby. It’s not a hardship, but I seem to over collect the wine and beer bottles from guest to guest as if holding on to them might mean a refill soon. Or that another use for a pretty wine bottle will appear. Right now, there are at least 3 big bags or boxes full- a few dozen bottles. When did that happen? I live alone.
Living here at Camont, I have one toe in the country and one toe in town. I grow some of my food, all the herbs, and many flowers to feast on. But I mainly shop at farmer’s markets and farm shops for all my fresh vegetables, farm-raised poultry, and great cheeses from all over France. However, just 2.5 kilometers away, the new ‘U’ Express little supermarket offers all the essentials- toilet paper, cat food, laundry soap, organic milk, and tortilla chips. They even give seasonal food lessons and recipes and will deliver. They also carry the Label Rouge IGP Tarbais beans I buy for cassoulet (coming soon!), ‘homemade’ saucisson that the butcher makes in house, dried yolk-golden pasta noodles made by a small local company, dried corn cobs for the bbq, cooked chestnuts from nearby Dordogne forests, duck fat in 1 kilo tubs from a local farm not factory, and great organic delicious yogurt from the young Chapolard crew at Les Flots Blancs (cows below). It’s a ten minute bike ride, a thirty minute walk away.
La Factrice (La Poste-woman) speeds by most days unless there is a colissimo package to drop off. While snail mail has all but disappeared (except for lovely hand drawn cards from my great nieces) the balance has been picked up by used books I order online, beautiful silk socks and mochi treats from Paris, and my new favorite pen pals- Crowdfarming ! I have bought boxes of oranges and lemons from Valencia, tins of delicious new crop olive oil, and the best mangoes I have ever eaten from the newly defined #Tropiterranean part of Spain. I love it when one of the sturdy boxes arrives filled with ripening fruit not available locally. The box will add to my compost bins and the taste of the further south is an enticement to stay home and write rather than travel. So while it isn’t all food, everyday, I mostly write about what is. My daily life photos are here.
SurO- a sparkling elderflower drink and syrup.
More amazingly everyday food ways in French:
Red wine, fruit and spice vinegars made by a neighbor who lives next to the newly restored medieval church at Mourrens looking down on our valley -
Refreshing elderflower and ginger sparkling drinks from my longtime friend Lucinda Pryor now bottled and sold at local markets and stores as SurO (sureau is the French name for elderberry plant)- see above.
Local beer and stout made in his Albret Ales artisan brasserie introduces Graham Brown to the expat and local crowd via the weekly markets at Nerac, Lavardac and Eauze. I love the deep chocolatey Stout and use it in my cooking, to deepen a pumpkin soup, as well as serving alongside a savory game paté or at the end of the meal with a gateau au gingembre (ginger cake). Why go with Guinness when Graham lives nearby?
Everyday Prunes are made special when produced in nearby orchards and transformed into bonbons, cremes, liqueurs, and dozens of delicious products as well as just… prunes. Ferme Roques also sells vegetables, foe gras, croustades and other neighboring farms’ products in their always open farm shop.
Eating in cafés is an everyday treat now restored post-covid—as long as you have your Passe Sanitaire! I ended up eating out twice this week at an old favorite—Café de la Paix in Bruch and a new favorite—Les Planches by the river in Nérac. Both offer better than the usual bistro fare- tasty, simple, and thoughtfully prepared. Merci to the hard working restaurateurs who stuck it out during this difficult time.Now that I can and while I can, I’ll eat outside.
Les Planches is along the River Baïse below the lock.
Shopping locally doesn’t mean just apples and lettuce, although both of those are amazingly flavorful. Everyday shopping is a wealth of selection that one cultivates as carefully as the farmer curates his heritage beans or summer’s best tomatoes. When I tattoo “Shopping IS Cooking” across the kitchen walls, I am encouraging you to mine the wealth of your own local resources. Spend a bit more time learning who grows what and where it comes from. Support the grower or producer directly. And take a bit more time to savor and enjoy your own efforts (or whoever cooks for you!) when you are at the table. Writing reminds me of all the good food of this past week. This is my list:
Tarte fine au potimarron, jambon, et oignons (see above)
Baked apples with crème fraîche
Refried beans and corn tortillas
Entrecôte et frites
Saucisse et haricots
Pumpkin soup with chestnuts (video class in October lessons)
Muscat grape sorbet
A breakfast of butter sautéed peaches, fresh goat’s cheese, and walnut toast- see photo below
Cooking and eating are a part of everyday life at Camont. You can join me for my very French, very good food and lifestyle classes online now- pop in for the Autumn three-month membership here or just try a month for a taste of October: https://katehillcooks.thinkific.com/bundles/autumn-seasonal-3-month-membership.
Bon Appétit everyday!
Tell me more of what you want to read. I listen to comments and feedback.