Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Facteur Factor ...

What is it with dogs and posties? Why is it that our two normally placid dogs (OK, I will admit that Shaun becomes hyper when he hears the squeak of the gate up the street opening, thinking that just maybe the rottweiler he'd like to become friends with will come out and ask to play, and Indra yips whenever she startles herself, like when she discovers that she has a tail which is apparently capable of autonomous motion, and both of them are right royal pains when it's windy because it goes up their bums and the air gets into their heads - their ears blow up like rubber gloves and stick out alarmingly) will start barking like mad things when the postie calls?

I means, accountants I could understand: it's fairly well-known that their genome is not entirely human - sometime back in the day they split off from our branch of the evolutionary tree - and so I guess they secrete hormones or something that dogs can smell (and a good thing too, or otherwise they'd be walking amongst us undetected), but a postman?

As far as I can tell they're every bit as human as you and I, apart perhaps from being rather fitter due to all that going around on pushbikes

So I was chatting with old Charles the other day - he who's sold a house and 8 hectares of vines to an English couple who want to live the Mayleish dream of owning a vineyard in the south of France (or who can't afford a place in Tuscany, I guess) - and even before we could get on to the vexèd subject of the weather he said gloomily that pretty soon Moux would have to put up signs around the village saying "Twinned with Gibraltar", such is the number of English ex-pats around here.

What with the lot that's already settled here (I guess we count, the French don't seem inclined to make a distinction), these would-be vignerons, another couple who've bought a place belonging to a mate of old Charles, just up behind the post office ... the place is getting overrun.

Leafing idly through the Health & Safety advisory pamphlets that, for some reason, litter the coffee tables here at The Shamblings, I came upon one that seemed particularly apposite at this time of year (at least, over here, where we live right-side up): n° 247, "Triage of grapes, the importance of". This is indeed important because when you are planning a flan aux raisins et crème frangipane, one of the last things you want to find in it is an Earwig Surprise. So just remember, when you're going through the vines appropriating some of the bunches that got missed during the harvest, don't pick the ones too low down unless you're an amateur of dog-slobber, and check the others for signs of life.

Whatever, cooking for one is a bitch. Re-reading My Paris Kitchen the other night (David Lebovitz, shameless plug for an excellent book) I was taken with an Urge for a salade lyonnaise, and so this morning at the market I took care to pick up some frisée (explaining to the stall-holder that there was just one of me and could I have but a few leaves rather than a kilo of salad) and of course I have potatoes and lardons and eggs and bread for croutons and garlic, and this evening I went into the kitchen to put it all together.

Fried the bacon and fished it out, added oil and slowly fried a clove of garlic in that until golden and then fried the bread cubes in the garlic-infused oil, made the dressing, steamed the potatoes, poached a couple of eggs ... now I remember why I always seem to roll away from the table after a lunch at Lyon. That, and belch garlic. And I still have a fair bit of a grape flan for dessert, waily waily. Just saying, I don't always seem to get a lot of sympathy.

Then I picked up a couple of round baby courgettes as well, thinking that they'd go down rather nicely stuffed with meat and stuff: of course it seemed evident that leftover boeuf bourguignon would be good for the stuffing, which meant heading off to les Halles to get the meat for that. As the guy behind the counter said, you just can't make it with a pitiful amount of meat so I didn't escape from there without 600gm of beef nestling in the basket - which at least means I'm assured of having some actual leftovers, which was more or less the point - and then I made the mistake of going past the pork butcher's.

He does a lovely shoulder roast, and although I was sorely tempted just to get him to cut off a 1" thick chop I finished by going for the roast - of course that was 1.2 kg, which is kind of a bit much for little me in one sitting ... Still, that's probably my protein needs satisfied for the week. And let it be admitted, cold roast pork does make wonderful sandwiches.

Also, slow-roasting is wonderful. Bugger your paleo diet (which does not, incidentally, seem to have made any headway over here in Furrin Parts, in fact I can't find anyone who will even confess to having heard of it), what's wrong with a rolled shoulder of pork browned all over, slathered with white wine and then roasted under tinfoil for three hours on a bed of garlic? (A word of warning though: don't salt the meat. After all that time the juices are thick and concentrated and caramelized, and to my taste at least salt is superfluous.)

And taking advantage of the fact that the oven was on I quartered some of the garden tomatoes I also managed to acquire (sadly, I don't think there'll be more for a while, maybe I'll be lucky next weekend) and stuck them in to roast liberally coated with olive oil, pepper and basil (you know, I really love baking paper - cuts down on the cleaning-up something wonderful) and of course some spuds: but with an eye on my health I put those in to cook with duck fat, which is better for you.

This is a good thing, because for some strange reason my supply of duck fat seems to be inexhaustible. I have at least four jars of the stuff in the fridge, one of the unavoidable by-products of cooking duck breasts, and no matter how much I use they all seem to be full. Maybe I should just stop eating duck breast for a year, see whether that changes things.

In other news, I have been contacted by a nice man at the Union Bank of Nigeria to let me know that my pre-paid debit card, loaded up with USD 750,000, will be mine within 72 hours of sending them my personal details and a wire transfer for $140 to cover postage & packaging. And all this thanks to the fact that I apparently inherited the sum, fulfilled a contract, or won a lottery. Great stuff, maybe I should buy Nigerian lotto tickets more often.

I did think that the last sentence was a nice touch: "Please help us to serve you better". Not something you hear every day, and it fair warms the cockles of my miserable wizened heart.

Other than heading off to the market I managed to spend a large amount of the weekend in displacement activity, avoiding doing stuff that I really do have to do. So that rather than look into the slimy details of programming the flash memory of a Texas 470M, I took the bikes we'd borrowed when Alex and Bridget were here the other month back to Peter - at least he welcomed them like long-lost friends.

Then I managed to get myself distracted again, and shifted all the clothes out of our bedroom on the first floor into temporary accommodation elsewhere - wherever I could find room, basically - and then dismantled our bed (for the Nth time, I can't for the life of me remember exactly when we bought it but it's followed us about like a bad smell ever since) and took what I could of the bits up to the top floor, in a little alcove in what will eventually become my office, in the hope that this will encourage Cédric to come back and start demolishing everything on the first floor.

I know, I know, it's sympathetic magic but the good thing about it is that sometimes it works! God only knows how many lost Papuan tribes have built airports out of grass and sticks and have had a Cessna loaded with Coke come and land there (the statistics are sometimes contradictory, but the general consensus is that the answer is a number less than one) - come to that, how many IT startups have lost a small large fortune by having a business model of "build it, and they will come"?

Rather a lot, actually, which I think proves my point - whatever that was. Oh yeah, getting builders to come back. In this day and age, maybe a phone call would be more effective. Certainly worth a try, I guess. Can always put off sacrificing the goat until after. (Good news, I suppose, as far as the goat's concerned.)

Anyway, I seem to have exhausted my excuses for not doing something useful/profitable, so maybe I should go try to wrap my head around the TI libraries, in between loading up the dishwasher and building a release version of the latest PC software.

Oh hang on! Now I have no bed upstairs I shall have to sleep on the spare bed in my office, must go get that ready! Shiny! Sparkly!

On that note I shall leave you to your own devices. Mind how you go, now.

1 comment:

  1. "Please help us to serve you better"

    Perhaps they are hoping for recipes.