I hope that you and yours are well.
This week it’s been raining cats and dogs in my bit of France. Or as the French say il fait un temps de chien – weather suitable for dogs. Whoever thought up that phrase certainly doesn’t know my dogs. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Bruno and Churchill (here they are on Instagram) are not keen on walks in heavy rain, they run ahead of us trying to get home as quickly as possible, back to laying on their cushions in front of the fire. I don’t mind rain (I’m from London, we are used to it) but we have taken shorter walks to please the dogs, which left me a bit of time for a spot of baking.
When I first came to France I had no interest in cooking. When Claudette my octogenarian neighbour discovered my complete lack of culinary skills she was horrified. “A grown woman unable to make a boeuf bourguignon… not even pain perdu?” Sacré Bleu (as very few French people say in reality!).
She set about trying to teach me how to cook. Word spread of the English woman’s shortcomings. The Bread Man we had at that time would put recipes in my post box when he drove by and neighbours shared tips and recipes with me. They were determined that I would learn. To be honest I was a reluctant pupil. Claudette decided that when I was able to make a passable French onion soup – she had achieved her goal and gave up on me.
Over the years since then I’ve worked with some wonderful chefs and cooks from Michelin stars to my neighbours. I’ve interviewed them, reviewed their books and restaurants, tasted their dishes, had lessons even. Surrounded by such passion for food in France, I’ve become much more enthusiastic in the kitchen. This week I made alpine tartiflette and Burgundian nonnette cakes (recipes below). I might not be able to travel in person, but I can certainly take my taste buds for a ride! There are loads of recipes from all around France on the website under the Gastronomy category if you fancy taking a journey for yourself.
Wishing you a bon weekend and bisous from my little French kitchen in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France
PS: Photo is in honour of National Cheese Lovers Day each 20 January!
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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