|Monstrous Municipal Monuments, n° 7|
Yes, apart from the fact that I'm stuck in an apparently empty kitchen, not something that happens at The Shamblings ... it means, tada! desperate improvisation. Well, not actually panic-stricken rushing about like a mad thing as such, just a bit of inventiveness ...
While that was going on I split, drained and chopped some tomatoes and stuck them in a frying pan with a chopped onion and a bit of lurking poivron, just to dry it out a bit, and sliced the kernels off the corn-cob and scraped the the starchy bits off with the back of a knife before adding all that to the pan with a helping of corn flour to stiffen the mix. Give it five minutes, stirring, and turn the heat off.
Fold the flaps of aubergine over the top and stick the lot into the oven: forgiddabahtit for half an hour and finally, when it's smelling done and feels springy to the touch, unmould the lot onto a plate, slice and serve with decent bread and salad. If you happen to have some spicy salsa that would go well, if not I guess there's always ketchup.
He left Wednesday moaning, on to Toulouse to see family, and I headed off to the market. I'm a sucker for these things, and the shopping basket slowly, and quite unintentionally, filled up. No truffles, sad to say, but baby yellow courgettes and a decent salad and tomatoes and some grenaille and a fresh goat's cheese and diverse fruit - also, knowing that J-C and Babette were turning up that night on their way back from Banyuls I was torn between the tuna steaks at the fishmongers (only 10€/kg, for godsake) and the travers de porc a bit further along.
Speaking of herbs, I had always been under the impression that they ran rampant down south, but as it turns out they seem to keep themselves to themselves. To find rosemary I have to wander up past Henri Bataille's mausoleum, thyme grows in clumps on the outskirts on the other side of the village, and so far I've only come across sage up on the flanks of the montagne d'Alaric. Which is a bit far to trot if, on the spur of the moment, you decide that nothing else will do but a bit of fresh sage with your pig-meat.
For there are indeed masses of blackberries, which no-one else seems to think of: there are also elderberries which are ripe now and look as though they would appreciate being turned into sirop, or jam, or reduced into a jelly to serve with meat instead of cranberry sauce.
There are also figs, and I rather kicked myself, later on when I was getting a couple of flammenkuche ready with sour cream and onions and Serrano ham, for not having picked some so I could have stuck slices on top, instead of being reduced to using confiture de figues. Let that be a lesson to me.
Now Narbonne was once a major Roman city - they used to call this side of Provence Gallia Narbonniensis after Jules (Caesar, that guy) settled most of his pensioned-off troops from the 10th legion down here - and it has a fair few vestiges. Not, perhaps, as much as Nîmes (which is lucky enough to have a crocodile as its city animal), but still ... for instance, in the place de l'Hotel de Ville there is a pit, in which are exposed some 30m² of the via Domitia. Looking at it - those Romans built really crappy roads. I mean honestly, it wasn't even flat! (Come to that,I'm not really sure how they get away with calling it a "road", there are laws on truth in advertising you know) You try taking a Mercedes over it. Go on, I'll wait until the tow truck arrives.
- arch-bishops have no taste, and
- they really, really want everyone to know just who it is that has the power around here.
And the Hotel de Ville is just next door, they've installed the fonctionnaires in the old chateau so all in all it's quite impressive. Mind you, trying to imagine the municipal employees galloping across the cobble-stones and under the great stone archway before handing the reins off to a flunky and heading for their desks kind of boggles my mind.
In any case, I eventually found a bit of solid bamboo about the size and weight of a baseball bat at Geneviève Léthu and the bored-looking guy behind the counter shoved it into a enormous paper bag as he wished me a nice day, and we set off to see if Margo was going to be able to find what she wanted - sadly, after traipsing through the ruelles of the vieille ville the answer turned out to be no. At least whilst she was looking I got to lick the windows of the Bose stereo shop. But we found ourselves, at the end of it all, in the rough vicinity of what was supposed to be, according to Google, "The English Food Shop", so we headed off there.
I actually think we did rather well, making it out of there - eventually - only 50€ lighter in the pocket. And that enormous paper bag came in quite handy after all.