A New Beginning
Sunday 12 August 2018 12:00
Hello everyone (or indeed anyone!)
Welcome to my new blog. Sadly ‘foodieafloat.com’ has had to be laid to rest with the sale of our beloved barge “Friesland’, although if you hanker after a further taste of our wanderings around the inland waterways of Europe then my next book (to be published by Prospect Books in the spring of 2019) ‘A Foodie Afloat‘ should satisfy.
My new site ‘Written in my Kitchen‘ will, hopefully, let me write on a wider range of subjects and allow you, dear reader, to comment on, discuss or simply engage with my story.
Which is what?
It’s an everyday story of our life in France with the occasional reminiscence thrown in. Perhaps, too, the odd cogitation on matters more profound, though I’ll probably pass on world-shaking events - too depressing - and concentrate on more hedonistic topics like sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. OK - only kidding. Though eating, drinking and music do take up a disproportionate amount of my time and I’ll certainly be writing about those things too.....
It’s high summer here in Burgundy and I am disappearing under an abundance of beans, courgettes, tomatoes, plums and at least four sorts of lettuce. This largesse springs from the garden of my friends Markus and Sonja here in the village. They put me to shame; we live like Homer’s lotus eaters, though I do have to think quite hard (exhausting in this heat) about how I can use it all up in an ever increasing variety of ways. Bottling, freezing, pickling, jam and chutney making - all must be considered. Meals too have become interesting constructions of warm salads and cold vegetable dishes; we become virtually vegetarian as the fishermen of France sail off on their ‘congés annuels‘ leaving us without fresh fish until September. Our butcher too has shut up shop and the market yields little protein beyond cheese and chicken. I’m not complaining though - why should I? We make do with pissaladière, tomato tarts, salads of chèvre chaud, Niçoise and paysan; I make all sorts of cold soups and we live on water melon granita - how tough is that?
The market is full of tiny sweet Charentais melons, peaches and nectarines and here come the first reine claudes; these pesky fruit and vegetables just will not give their growers a break - they must take their hols later once the harvesting is over. Such is the weather this year that the vendange here in Burgundy is due start on the 1st of September - far earlier than usual. The winegrowers worry less about the fierceness of the sun and lack of rain, after all grapes are designed for just this sort of situation, with roots which search for their nutrition in the depths of the unique Burgundy limestone, clay and silica soil; their concerns are more about the possibility of the rogue ice storms which strike so ferociously and randomly - pummelling the grapes, shredding the leaves, leaving swathes of desolation in their wake. More prosaically the winemakers also worry about the shortage of pickers as the early grape harvest vies with the hand gathering of so much other produce.
All such is grist for my particular mill as we are absorbed into French village life but also able to stand slightly outside observing what’s going on. The contrasts between our life in West London and here are stark but what a great way to spend one’s time - trying to fathom out our differences and learning to appreciate two very different ways of living.
There’s more than enough non-world shaking events to write about; small matters of little interest to any but a few.
So I’ll just get on with it, shall I?
BARGES & BREAD
Pub. Prospect Books, Aug. 2017
ISBN -13 978-1-909248-51-9
240pp, paperback with flaps
Size: 216 x 138mm
Price: £12.50 Black & white
Where to find some of my writings:
Petits Propos Culinaire (PPC) is a journal of food studies and food history published by Prospect Books three times a year since 1980. Now edited by Tom Jaine it is a mix of academic study, food history written with a light touch, and slightly quirky essays written by people like me. Amongst its contributors over the years are some of the best food and cookery writers of our time. Such a special publication continues to deserve our support.
PPC 96 August 2012:
Food on the Move
PPC 99 November 2013:
Hospital Food - à la française
PPC 101 October 2014:
The Limejuice Run
PPC 104 December 2015:
PPC 110 February 2018:
Une Mauvaise Herbe; Purslane