Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Body Was A Temple ...

... but these days, it's more of a wine cellar. Or so Stacey remarked to me the other day. I suppose that's recycling at its best.

Anyway, I wandered around the market this morning and confided my (extremely) heavy caba to the care of Camille and Simon at the Beer Tree (for I did not really want to feel my arms perceptibly lengthening as I wandered about with the camera) and then on my way back from Dalya (motto: "Oriental specialties our specialty", or should be - they seem to have everything I need, and many things I never knew I needed, with the possible exception of jaggery powder which pisses me off no end for I have none left), feeling happy and warm with the afterglow that comes from finding something hitherto unknown and therefore ever so slightly sexy viz. some sugar-cane vinegar, I was hit with a sudden craving.

And seeing as it was more or less on my way anyway, I headed back to the market, braved the tectonic flow of elderly ladies out enjoying the sun and trying to make sure that no-one else was in any fit state to do so, and fought my way right to the back of les Halles couvertes to join the queue at what is now my favourite pork butcher of all time.

There is, incidentally, an art to this. For there in fact two queues, one for the charcuterie and another for the fresh piggy meat, and you must join the right queue or they may frown at you. Not for long mind you, for they are naturally cheerful and friendly people; so it's more like being gowled. As Jeremy used to say, back in the day, when he invented the word. Be that as it may, next time I need to make up some lard paysan, I think I shall go back there and get a slab of poitrine fraiche with which to do it. The supermarket stuff is all very well, but I'm sure that a bit of rustic porker would be that much better.

Of course, being unaware of the protocol, I orbited to eye up the meat and then joined the wrong queue. And then I realised my error at the last minute, just as I got to the head, made an excuse as I gave up my place and joined the tail of the other one. But despite being friendly they are also efficient, so it was only five minutes later that I made it out, with that bottle of vinegar in a paper bag in one paw (suppose, dressed as I was in good wool overcoat and all, I looked like a high-class wino with gutter tastes), and two lovely thick cotes de porc fermière lovingly arranged and wrapped in butcher's paper held firmly in the other.

At this moment, they are both of them bathing in white wine, vinegar and olive oil, with a bit of chopped shallot, some crushed juniper berries, garlic and peppercorns to keep them company: tonight, I think, they are going to find themselves searing in the big sauteuse until nicely browned, then going into the oven, wrapped in tinfoil, with some cornichons and capers and the strained marinade.

With some red cabbage coleslaw (yes, I found a small choux rouge at the market), garlicky green beans and baked stuffed potatoes (which our country cousins across the pond will insist on calling "twice-baked" potatoes, don't know why even if it is, in point of fact, technically true), I feel that should go down rather well tonight. Or if not the green beans, then maybe some blettes, fried with bacon, heaped atop half a pita bread and topped with tomato and chèvre before being baked for a bit.

Whatever, these thoughts made me feel a Better Person as I ambled back in the general direction of my shopping, and I have to admit that the bright blue sky helped a lot too, so I parked myself outside in the sun, ordered a glass of cabernet, and did my little bit for global warming by lighting up a cigar as I basked.

Sadly all good things must come to an end, and Bryan turned up and talk turned to more serious matters, such as The Business Partner from Hell, and whether or not it would be permissible to use a bazooka to get rid of the top floor of the building that was starting to shade our table as the sun swung round.

He had a vague feeling that it was probably against some obscure city bylaw or something, and on top of that he actually has a friend with a new-born baby living up there and was a bit reticent on her account, but as I pointed out you never know until you try, can't make an omelette without breaking eggs etc, and anyway it might well turn out to be a blessèd relief to the poor woman, and it would be presumptuous of us to assume otherwise. I'm not sure that I convinced him, but anyway the matter turned out to be moot because Camille came out and suggested that we just shift leftways a bit to another table in the full sun.

A pragmatic solution, I must admit, but I still feel that it lacked elegance.

Still, suppose it avoided possibly tiresome recriminations from petty-minded municipal employees who are oh! so willing to dish out parking tickets but go all mediaeval on you at the slightest hint of visionary inner-city remodelling, especially if it involves state-of-the-art ordnance.

And in any case we had to shelve the topic at that point, as Margo turned up with young Angie in tow, tugging on his leash. Like I said, lovely dog, but the brain of a lungfish. So he sat there panting amiably and sniffing the fire hydrant occasionally to see if something interesting, other than him, had happened to it in the last half-minute while he wasn't watching (it hadn't), and we slowly emptied our glasses before heading home. (Or, in Bryan's case, off for a little run: in training for another half-marathon, I guess. I didn't ask, I find it's so depressing when he says "yes". Always gives me a twinge of guilt that maybe I myself should be out there too, doing something Improving and restoring my body to the sanctified shrine to health and simple living that it once was. For all of ten seconds, and then the feeling passes.)

Then I thought I'd better occupy myself with Jeremy's latest. His body just seems to be a Luddite, it's somewhere in the genes. Don't get me wrong, it's not that he dislikes technology or anything, it's just that Bad Things happen to it when he's around.

I mean, he has blown at least three PC power supplies by the simple expedient of their finding themselves in the same room as he, there are a few motherboards that just breathed their last when they saw him, and any number of light bulbs that have spontaneously combusted in his presence.

So I suppose it should have come as no surprise that, when he put his scooter away the other night, the ignition key bent and twisted of its own accord so that it was no longer usable. The thing wasn't even in the ignition at the time, how could that happen? And of course, he didn't have a spare key.

Which meant it was back to shuttle-bus service of the evenings, doing the round trip to Montmelian around 22:00 to pick him up from the restaurant, which is seriously annoying when you're just half-way through an episode of "Justified". So lacking an anvil I put that key down on the flat of a large mason's mallet and then, with another mallet, proceeded to bash hell out of it, with malice aforethought, until it looked not so wobbly as before.

It even consented to go back into the ignition slot, which is one problem fixed, but I still wonder exactly what is going to break under his influence next time around. Hopefully, nothing too valuable.

Hebe, goddess of laundry and shopping lists.
Anyway, as if to redeem itself in some way for Saturday having been such a wonderful chocolate-box day, right now the sky is a louring dull grey and the hills across the valley are wreathed in cloud. Sort of weather that makes me, personally, want to settle down with a cookbook and leaf through the pages looking for something familiar and warm. And that I can do with what's in the house, which at this moment happens to be about 400gm of mince, and Things In Tins. I'm sure I'll come up with something that is neither meatloaf nor lasagna.

Oh yes, like I said we accepted the offer on this place and now we sign the compromis de vente on Wednesday, which makes it all Official: with any luck we'll hear back soon from Peter and find out if our offer for the place in Moux is acceptable. Also, have to find out if the purchase is à l'anglaise, ie furnished, which would, if it turns out to be the case, leave us with an awful lot of stuff on our hands. Mind you, we are no strangers to accumulated possessions, or "junk" as I prefer to call it. I'll let you know.


  1. My Body Was A Temple ...
    Your mouth, however, is an atheist.

    Will you still be at the current abode in early July? AFAF.

  2. Early July? Very probably. Although we may well be living out of - or in - cardboard boxes.

  3. Angie ? Who's dog is that ? Don't tell me you got a new dog without letting me know !

  4. Would we do that? Nah, we wuz just dogsitting for the day.

  5. Who's dog is that ?

    I cannot believe the bad grammar of the young people of today. Too much of that 'txting' if you ask me.

  6. If txting were to blame, there'd be no apostrophes at all. We should count ourselves lucky :)