Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh the pitiful screams ...

... "of all them college educated women", as Frank Zappa sang in "The Illinois Enema Bandit". Of which I was reminded today as I bent over and applied vaseline in preparation for a phone call from the SNCF purchasing office, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to screw people for as much money as possible. For some strange reason it's always them who expect me to "make an effort" and lower my price (and trousers), rather than their making an effort and smiling broadly as they pay me more than I asked.

And just to put me in the right mood, it's been persisting down all day - in fact, since Sunday. And chilly enough that the big wood-burner in the kitchen is happily purring to itself as we periodically stick a log in its gaping maw. (Advantage is that I don't have to turn on the enormous oven just to roast a half-shoulder of lamb for the two of us, of course. Plus it keeps the kitchen and living room warm, the kitchen perhaps a bit too warm, to tell the truth.)

In other news, the morille season has opened. Yep, those lovely little tumescent black mushrooms are poking their heads through the leaf-mould again - or so Jacques assures me. I shall have to find time one weekend Real Soon Now to head up and see him, and go a-hunting. Preferably when it's not raining, because wandering through a forest on steep muddy slopes with rain pouring down the back of my neck is not my idea of fun.

And of course, the Poms are getting all sorts of existential angst or whatever over the concept of a hung parliament. Fair enough I suppose, it's been 40 years since they last had one, but it'd be really nice if they could just get over it and just carry on living. Insofar as you can in a country with a climate like the armpit of one of Jeremy's shirts.

Whipped through the market, as is my wont (V-E Day notwithstanding) and to my great pleasure found one of the stalls hocking off 200gm bottes d'asperges at 2€ for three. I have mentioned that Jeremy has decided he likes the stuff? I bought three. Like that, there was one bunch for Sophie and I for lunch, to go with the daurade royale I picked up at Carrefour. (According to my Larousse Dictionary Of All Food In The Known Universe, daurade is better known as sea bream. Which is no great help to me: I don't know what sea bream is either.)

Whatever, it turned out sort of fine - what the Swiss would call "beau temps mitigé" (which passes for a sidesplitting joke there, basically means rain with occasional periods where it's not actually raining as such and maybe the sun comes out between downpours; for some reason the Swiss find this hilarious) so we actually managed to have a civilised drink outside on the terrace, in between hailstorms. Hence the wineglasses, nuzzling up to one another. As they do. Guess which one's mine.*

Then I whipped out this frikkin' great fish and wondered what to do with it, and finally decided to flour it, brown it in a pan and then stick it in the oven with herbs stuck up its bum and white wine sloshed over it so it could regret the errors of its youth for a while. Then get some butter foaming in the pan, add lemon juice and chopped parsley, pour the lot over the fish ... not one of the worst ideas I've ever had.

Rather to my dismay, Lucas and Rémi have also decided that asparagus is A Good Thing. Bit of a bummer, really, but on the bright side, there are no leftovers. And I've rarely seen a fish picked so clean.

Meanwhile, down in the garden, the grass is growing apace, the trees are all covered in leaves, the lilac's flowered and fairly soon it'll smell like a cheap tart's bedroom as the acacia bursts into flower. Not that I know, personally, what a cheap tart's bedroom smells like, but it's definitely what comes to mind when confronted with acacia blossom. If you've got a better simile, let me know.

* Mine's the full one. Always seems to empty itself, have to keep filling it up. Besides, Sophie finished the white.

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