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Archive for December, 2009

I know I said in my last missive that I would be continuing the whirlwind tour of France but as always events have conspired against me and Christmas has loomed out of nowhere.

So the third instalment will be in January and that gives me time to concentrate on a Christmas special.

You may have noticed that the snow is falling, albeit rather slowly,  on the page as you read just to put you in the mood.

This year has been a bit of a strange one, you will recall last Christmas I had food poisoning allegedly due to an infected oyster, I am not convinced and I have eaten oysters since then with no ill effects but just in case as I do not want to miss Christmas day with my kids who I do not see very often, oysters are off the menu this year.

Then during the summer whilst collecting blackberries in the garden, I was bitten or stung by something which in turn was then infected by a microbe which gave me blood poisoning and even after antibiotics came back a few weeks ago so more visits to the doctor and blood tests hence my lack of blogging of late.  The upside is that the blackberry jam Mrs. Powerfulpierre made was fantastic with intense fruity flavours.

So to Christmas and the shops are already heaving with the most fantastic food and drink and of course being France all the prices of the luxury items come down.  Now I love lobster and back in the UK I think I had it twice in fifty years but here if you do not mind frozen a whole decent size lobster will cost you 2.95 Euros, half a dozen of those are now in the freezer as will be the incredibly cheap Scottish Langoustine and the amazing scallops which you just barely singe in a little butter in a frying pan, they come with what the French call coral which I think is the roe and they are so sweet and nutty and flavourful just on their own.

So apart from seafood what else can you expect to be treated to if you spent Christmas in France?

Well the French are particularly fond of foie  gras, duck or slightly more expensive goose liver which I know in some circles is frowned upon due to the force feeding of the animals, but in France Christmas just would not be Christmas without it and it comes in all shapes and sizes from the whole liver which you gently fry.  I had it cooked with prunes and cognac in a restaurant in the South of France once.

It also comes in a block which you spread on specially baked bread which is thinly sliced.  It also is made into Paté.

One of my favourites at this time of year is the speciality paté en croute, it is about as close to English pork pie that you can get but it is so much more.  The pastry is made with butter and my favourite is wild boar with mushrooms but the guinea fowl is also good.

Carrying on the duck theme, my youngest son adores the slivers of smoked duck which are a speciality of The Landes region and I must admit they are exceptional.

Mrs Powerfulpierre has been busy making Christmas cake and pudding, not something the French go in for and she made mince pies which we served at French school that we have with some of our English and French neighbours.  The French love to try English food and the pies went down a storm.

Now for a confession, in the middle of writing this we had to go shopping and I am afraid the lobsters called out to me as we were passing the freezer and one just jumped into the trolley, how weird is that.  In fairness because we are both on a diet I had only had fruit for lunch and therefore the lobster was a nice starter just on its own with a tiny bit of good mayonnaise and some french bread.  My fellow gastronauts I cannot start to describe the flavour, the different textures of the meat in the claws and the tail meat.

The claw meat is soft and sweet and the lobstery juice is unctuous, you just have to dip your bread into it.  Then the tail meat, I always eat the claw meat first then the tail which is stronger flavoured and firm.

For mains we had would you believe kangaroo fillet steaks, as I said earlier the French go in for exotic and luxury food at Christmas but at a price everyone can afford.  We could have had ostrich or roe deer or stag but the best value was the roo.  These were grilled on the George Foreman, I had mine rare with thinly cut french fries so the blood tinged the golden crisp chips purple and more french bread to mop up the juices.

With the steak we had a Spanish Tempranillo, this was a lovely wine, the equivalent I think of the French Cabernet Sauvignon and was all of 1.50 Euros from a shop called Noz which you learn about very quickly when you live in France.  I am not going to bang on about how cheap a lobster and steak meal was or how there would be no way we could have afforded it in the UK because it winds up my youngest son so I will not do that.  However I can ask his partner and writer of the wonderful food stories whether she can knock together something similar and tell us how much it would have cost.

Well next week we visit our neighbour who has generously given us one of her geese for our Christmas present.  If it is as good as the previous ones she has given us then it will be perfect for Christmas day.

So until next year I wish all my readers a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year and thank you so much for taking an interest in our life in France.

France on a plate

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