Thursday, 23 August 2012


On 22 August 1944, the Allies swept into Salon-de-Provence and liberated the town from the Occupying forces. The town has celebrated this every year since- with fireworks, processions and dancing in the streets.

As we near the end of our Provencal summer, and as we joined in the festivities, I reflected that this time in the sun had been liberating in many other ways.

The French have a saying- Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup..- (Eat well, laugh often, love a lot)- and- whilst  I don't often see the average French person slapping their sides and roaring with laughter very much, on the food side of things they do have a point . This blog has always been about making the most of what you've got, not wasting any precious food- but perhaps the quality of the food that I use has not been uppermost in my mind.

Eggs, for example.

An egg is an egg, is an egg, I always thought- but, since getting up close and personal with the hens here, and discovering the pleasure of cooking eggs that have been laid that day- from hens that happily scratch around and eat good things (they even have a fig tree in their hen coop so they can eat the fallen figs!), I've discovered that there is a lot more to eggs than I thought before.

Their yolks are so yellow and make a glorious quiche, their whites cook so beautifully that poached eggs come out of the poaching liquor nicely rounded like little igloos, I don't think I can go back to Value eggs. I'm going to have to source some good farm eggs from somewhere.

Tomatoes are another food that are on a different level here. After tasting the lovely little cherry tomatoes offered as a nibble with aperitifs, or the gorgeous fat beef tomatoes which are perfect for stuffing, I will not be buying cheap chemical ripened tomatoes in plastic packs again. On a frugal note, they are really simple to grow yourself in a corner of the garden, in a conservatory or greenhouse. Here are some tomato recipes to get you thinking of all things red and wonderful: just simply roasted with some olive oil herbs and salt they make a wonderful accompaniment to roast meat or fish  And using big beef tomatoes I've made tomates farcies  : take off the 'lids', hollow out the centre of the tomatoes, removing the core, stuff with cooked rice, tuna and cheese (as here) or leftover bolognaise sauce with a fresh breadcrumbs on top. Roast the tomatoes, including lids and serve with green beans or just crusty bread.Finally, don't forget that overripe tomatoes make a great puree, (blitzed and sieved and reduced with a little balsamic vinegar and  a pinch of sugar). Use it to top pasta or pizzas.

We had truly homemade pizzas (a friend has built a pizza oven in his garden!) and they were special and I can't resist showing you the photos.

Evening falls on our Provencal summer- and tomorrow I'll pack for our return to Blighty. Want to see what I'm putting in my suitcase?

Shame I can't fit in the hens!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you've had a wonderful holiday, Liz!

    Being a farm kid, I was lucky enough to grow up thinking day-old eggs, two-hour-old milk, and vegies straight from the garden were de rigueur, and living now in the city I couldn't agree more that there is such a difference. I'll be interested to hear how you go sourcing things when you're back at home.