Vive la France, Cinq: Auntie #2

Due to the aforementioned copious amounts of wine, we were moving a little sluggishly on the day we left Orgnac Sur Vezere and ended up arriving a bit later than planned at Auntie J’s.

Still, she and her husband welcomed us with a spread of delicious French cheeses, crust bread and pate.

I can’t remember the names of all the types of cheese, but there was a Bleu, a Brie, a cheddar, and two from sheep’s milk (or was it goat’s? I always mix them up.). I hate bleu cheese except for in bleu cheese dressing with Buffalo wings (which I know doesn’t make any sense) and am not a huge fan of Brie, so would normally have focused on the cheddar, which was very good – crumbly and sharp.

Still, I tried the Brie, and it was delicious, creamy and smooth. But the goat (sheep?) was amazing, so buttery I found it hard to stop eating it.

Eventually, we also had more wine.

I took a picture so I could try to get some when I got home.

Let me just say right here that everything good you’ve ever heard about French cheese, wine or bread is true.

They are incredible.

We had a nice, though too-short, visit with Auntie J and Uncle G and enjoyed meeting some of their friends (also English ex-pats).

We even managed to fit in a short walk between the rain showers. They also live in the country as you can see from these photos of their street.

Or maybe you can’t tell from the picture. Their street is not actually in a town, although it’s not too far from one, and they are surrounded by farmers’ fields.

I never realized how rural France is before this trip. It makes sense though; all those delicious cheeses, wines, and pate have to come from somewhere!

According to “About France,” there were 246 types of cheeses in General de Gaulle’s time, and there are more now (https://about-france.com/cheese.htm).

And there are 27,000 winemakers in France, with about 110,000 vineyard owners (statistics from http://www.terroir-france.com/wine-faq/wineries-france.htm).

The value of “terroir” is held much more highly in France than it is in the US. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Wikipedia defines it thus: “Terroir (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, “land”) is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop‘s phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat. Collectively, these contextual characteristics are said to have a character; terroir also refers to this character” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terroir).

Perhaps we are beginning to catch on, however, with more people focusing on eating more local foods (I see this for myself in the grocery store where I work). But in a country where the average piece of produce travels 1,500 miles, its clear we still have a way to go (figure from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/why-buy-local-food/).

We belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – see here: https://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for more information) which makes eating local vegetables easier, at least in the summer. Sometimes, our problem is the opposite – figuring out what to do with all those lovely vegetables!

A few years ago, I had a flash of inspiration and began a yearly tradition of making hot pepper jelly, which has become a much sought after Christmas gift.

And this week, I got the idea that I should make strawberry jam with berries for our local market (probably as a displacement activity so I could put off cleaning house). I made a total of twenty-six jars, in three batches, two pots of strawberry margarita (complete with tequila and triple sec) and one pot of plain strawberry jam.

The Margarita jam is beautiful (and delicious).

The plain jam has yet to set, and looks like it’s been frosted because I couldn’t skim off all the froth.

No matter. I’ve decided what to do if it never sets (which can happen).

Strawberry jalapeño jam, anyone?

Anyway, France has the idea of eating local foods perfected.

And Auntie J and Uncle G seem to have learned the knack as well.

We had to leave too soon, and again departed later than initially planned, this time due to wanting to prolong our visit since it had been so short.

This meant we hit Paris at rush hour. The less said about that, the better, except to say I am very grateful to The Engineer for driving. Also, this meant we didn’t have time to take Le Metro to see Notre Dame.

After the stressful drive (or in my case, ride), we were grateful to hear the desk employee at our hotel say, “Of course, I have upgraded you to a lovely suite.” (This phrase works best if said with a lilting French accent.)

We followed dinner at the hotel with a good night’s sleep, then packing up and racing to the airport where we stood in line for a security check that had nine gates going through one line with one X-ray machine and four employees.

I was sure we’d miss the plane

We didn’t, and later that night, we fell asleep, home in our own bed.

Thank you for sharing my trip memories with me.

I’ll leave you with two random leftover photos that I like but have nothing much to do with anything else.

This is an old Citroen. I liked it because it looked so vintage French.

And this is a closeup of a tree. I liked the the way the moss contrasted with the texture of the bark.