Sunday, November 22, 2015

Les Talents qui Travaillent le Tubercule ...

As was so often the case, Pooh had a pained
expression when listening to Eeyore
Yes, it is indeed la semaine internationale de l'alliteration.

Let's get it over with straight away: then you may read on and enjoy yourselves. It has been drawn to my notice that some of you may not follow The Register. So under the circumstances, I feel myself obliged to draw your attention to this article, announcing the annual clitoris festival in some small Spanish town.

Whatever the procedure and criteria might be for selecting the festival Queen, and what the parade afterwards would be like, I do not know: nor do I wish to, for I fear the worst.

We have new neighbours: the house they rent has a sort of roof terrace - a very Provençal concept, that - and I guess they were trying it out a few weeks back for there was an enormous fuss and then Blofeld sauntered over the roofline and came to lick his paws on the tiles above the verandah. He was followed by the neighbour's head, which didn't rise higher than the roofline: making for an amusing spectacle when this sort of disembodied football spoke.

"Excuse me, but do you have a cat?" it asked. "Mouais", I replied, "but to which of our disreputable fleabags do you refer?"

"The big white hairy bastard that just nicked two merguez off the barbecue!"

"Sorry squire, ah cannot help you there. Although ah admit that it has a suspicious hair that he should now be innocently sunning himself on our tiles, he is not ours, nor have ah evah seen him befoah."

Not entirely true, for Blofeld is in fact known to the services of law and order around these parts, but it seemed to satisfy the football, which retreated grumpily and - to judge by the noises - gave diverse brats a good clip around the earhole to remind them of the seriousness of barbecue-guardian duty. Just as well really, for the ancient and estimable firm of Delacrotte & Morveux, Solicitors at Arms, charge a small fortune for the privilege of offering up a defense in such cases.

Ohs noes! Catastrophe! (We are in France, so that would be pronounced "katastroff", in case you were wondering.) The coffee machine has died with a fatal case of kidney stones! Woe is us, the sky is falling, how shall we live? Fortunately, being the forward-planning persons that we are, we have three others. Acquired in all legality, I hasten to point out. Although I did like that Bosch: enough for two-and-a-half huge mugs in the morning, and sufficient left over for Margo's midday dose. The Moulinex that Jeremy so kindly donated to his aging parents before leaving for furrin parts is insufficient.

(And do not try to criticise our coffee intake. It is an admittedly feeble flap in the direction of healthy living, totally not an ad-hoc post-facto justification, having read somewhere that coffee helps repair liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption.)

Anyways, what follows is what happens when you try to multi-task and are, through no fault of your own, chromosomally-inadequate. Not to say "deficient".

Margo having headed off to Pau for her birthday, I thought I'd at least have a stab at fending for myself and making dinner for one, and settled on a salade Lyonnaise as being not insurmountably difficult and also, although there are certain elements that cannot be omitted unless you want a surprise visit from the Spanish Inquisition or the Commission Française de Défense des Traditions Alimentaires, is limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge.

Can't go too wrong with a lettuce - unless of course you're English, and take some sad watery flavourless piece of shit and then boil it to within an inch of its life, or French, in which case you might braise it in veal stock and butter. But at least then it would go to meet its maker knowing that it was destined to be served up alongside a Chateaubriand, which has to be some sort of consolation. Ditto the plump ripe garden tomatoes.

The potato slices, fried in duck fat, were as golden as one could wish, and the lardons of bacon (yeah, home-made - so sue me) as crispy and carcinogenic as I could get them. The rounds of chèvre, breaded and fried in the rest of the fat, were quite acceptable. But my poached egg was NOT RUNNY ENOUGH!

It should have wobbled atop the mountain of ingredients on my plate, and when I stabbed it with my knife there should have been a bright golden lava flow of yolk splooping out over everything, making a dressing totally redundant: did NOT happen. I has sads.

(If you're trying this at home, do remember to fry up some garlicky croutons in the bacon fat, as well as the chèvre. It doesn't actually reduce the amount of cholesterol in there, but it lets you feel a lot better about it.)

We is working on this "local bar support group" thing. I don't know whether or not they make enough money from us, but we are trying to do our bit. Last Friday, Margo being absent - again - I went off to inhale a few vitamins and then Cash & Terry turned up with the same idea, then a bit later up came Johann and Sylvia ... so we all decided to stick around and eat.

It was not bad, although personally I find that they could have cut back on the size of the pizzas without anyone reproaching them (but then, looking at they way some people around these parts eat, I could be wrong): the problem was that there were quite a few clients and I suspect that the kitchen just is not kitted out to handle it. Just saying, the service is slow in such circumstances, and if you're at a big table you might find some people tucking into the main course whilst others are sipping their coffee.

So do what we did a few nights later, just go for a table for two. At least like that you're pretty sure to be served more or less at the same time. And let it be said that the hamburger was quite honorable, even if I did - to the disguised disgust of everyone else - eat it with my fingers. And next time, I shall ask for a fried egg in it, and maybe take up a jar of pickled beetroot. To make it proper.

And then the other night I dined with Bob! - a lengthy affair involving pâté, a stuffed râble de lapin, a bit of foie gras, the liver of the rabbit in question (which was evidently surplus to requirements, under the circumstances, and some of which, I'm ashamed to say, Indra managed to nick before it went into the dish) and a couple of bottles which we thought we'd better walk off, with the dogs - and coming back into the village around 00:30 noticed that the lights were still on in the bar, and Robert pointed out that it would be a good thing just to check that they weren't being burgled and if not, they might have some whisky.

As it happens, they did.

Also, none of this new-fangled nonsense about dogs not being allowed in bars. But they are under-age, so no alcohol for them.

Then we both managed to head off last Friday evening for a drink with Rick and Mary before heading home for roast lamb with brussels sprouts and chips - hardly traditional, I know, but Rick is a great fan of chips ... so we made it back here and those of us who like our nicotine dose were out on the terrace doing our bit for air pollution and talking smugly about how balmy it was: for it is true that up til now we have been enjoying - if that's the word - temperatures up in the admittedly low 20s, which is still acceptable.

In the classical Greek manner hubris is, of course, punished - often rather disproportionately if you ask me, but that's neither here nor there - and so of course on Saturday we got up to about 10° and things stubbornly refused to go any higher. Could've been worse: it snowed in Savoie.

This can mean only one thing: time to drag out the Yog-Sothoth disguises from Halloween and go do the Ceremony of Appeasement of The Boiler. (I know, I know. The robes and mystical chanting are not actually required and, whilst personally satisfying, the sacrifices are a purely optional extra: be that as it may, we do feel that just going off to the boiler cupboard and pushing a switch is rather lacking something. Letting the side down. It's supposed to be a complicated, obscure ritual, for godssake.)

And the steam hissed around the joints, the water gurgled through the pipes (I suppose I shall have to go bleed off the surplus air) and now we is toasty-hot. Which is a Good Thing.

This also means we're getting into the truffle season, and maybe this year I shall actually take the time to head off to Moussoulens or Talairan, or Villeneuve Minervois, to one or t'other of the various truffle markets. And maybe even buy a black, warty testicle, having worked out in advance just what I want to do with it this time round. I mean, a poularde demi-deuil is a lot of work for sod-all in my opinion and in any case it's a cold dish, which is not what I want at this time of year: maybe, if I speak nicely to Jacques, I can has some decent mushrooms and then I could just roast a chicken with slivers of truffe under the skin and make up a sauce with vin jaune, cream and morilles.

Alternatively, my elderly copy of Pellaprat has a number of dishes involving beef fillet and truffles: maybe I should be looking into those. And if anyone wants to pop over for a truffle omelette, January or February would probably be about the right time.

In late-breaking news, we seem to be still alive. I would have been blissfully unaware of this fact, as I do not read the papers, nor listen to the radio, and we do not actually have a TV, had it not been that, taking our two hairy retards for a bladder-emptying exercise that Saturday afternoon, I came across old Neville.

He's a Fabian conspiracy-theorist of the old school so it took a bit of time to get any sense out of him, what with muttering about it all being a capitalist plot to oppress the workers, but I finally worked out that perhaps I really ought to go home at some point and check up on the news and my email.

As it turned out Ian and Marie were in Britanny, niece #1 in Jordan, and niece #2 spent the night in lockdown behind the steel security shutters in a bar off les Halles. Which had not, I think, been in her plans for the evening.
Mind how you go, now.


  1. According to the Goofle,
    No results found for "sexy Yog-Sothoth disguises".

    Isn't that reassuring?

  2. Central-heating boiler does not require "sexy". But if you insist on the sacrifice bit, a rubber apron would be handy and - for some - erotic.