Bonjour from autumnal France,
I hope that all is well with you and yours.
It was National Dessert Day this week (14 October) and I mentioned it to Claudette, my 90 year-old neighbour. “I never heard of such a thing” she said. “But I think we should honour it with a cake.”
Well I wasn’t going to disagree with her as she is known to be a most wonderful cake maker. Her sponges are light and sweet, her crème patisserie is like velvet, and her eclairs are the most delicious I have ever tasted, smothered in chocolate or vanilla flavoured icing and oozing with Chantilly cream filling. She asked me what we should make and we talked about the many cakes we love, crème brulée and crêpes, sugar tart and beer tart, madeleines, millefeuilles and macarons.
In the end we decided to make pain perdu, which isn’t a posh dessert at all, but it’s very quick and easy to make, very more-ish and very shareable. Which was just as well as her son-in-law, Jean-Claude turned up while we were cooking – his pain perdu radar clearly working well.
He took his shoes off at the door and sat at the table as the aroma of the sweet eggy brioche swirled around her cosy kitchen.
“I just saw Madame Bernadette” he said, “she’s planning on having her usual Christmas soiree this year.” Well that cheered us all up no end, what with lockdowns and all, we missed it for the last two years. “She’s already planning the menu, and she’s got some home-made orange liqueur on the go” he said and sighed with happiness at the thought as Madame Bernadette is as good as cook as Claudette and her cocktails have a reputation for blowing your socks off.
Claudette placed a slice of pain perdu in front of us and we sat in quiet contemplation of a dish that’s said to go back as far as the days of Rome. This wise old lady often says that cooking is love made visible, and I promise you at that moment, I totally got it! (Here are the recipes for Claudette’s pain perdu, and for orange liqueur).
Wishing you a bon weekend and lots of entertainment and inspiration for your France trips…
Bisous from my little corner of rural northern France,
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream, My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life and Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France all available as ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online.
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