Friday, 24 June 2011

Music Festival, Briam and real eggs

June 21st is the longest day in the northern hemisphere, (of course!) and also the day that music is celebrated in larger centres, right throughout France. We drove into Auxerre on a balmy night of 22-23 C about 8pm to find the central city cordoned off and the only car parks quite some distance away.  The streets were literally heaving with people, and musicians were on almost every corner. Individual musicians and groups of all genres and varying degrees of accomplishment, it has to be said - but the crowds were loving it all. From grannys to tots, everyone from miles around was there and having a good time listening and dancing in the streets to African/Latin American, blues, rock, heavy metal, country & western or classical.

21st June - the celebration of music in the streets, right throughout France
Much to our surprise, there was even a large group line dancing! It's everywhere!

Line dancing in the streets of Auxerre
We should have got there earlier, as we missed most of the classical acts, which was a shame - but there was plenty of listening choice in any case.
Anticipating a late night, we'd decided to eat before going in, so we tackled the briam (yes, I do use my own recipes) again, after being rather disappointed in it the night before - the problem was that I'd left my organising a bit late and the village supermarket doesn't really 'do' fresh herbs - probably because most people here have quite extensive gardens and grow their own. In any case, I'd had to make do with just a bit of parsley and some dried basil - definitely not as good as lots of fresh basil/dill etc.

It was, however, greatly improved by the next day. I heated the leftovers, made some 'hollows' in it with a spoon and popped the fresh free range eggs from our landlords into the hollows. Back in the oven it went, just til the eggs were cooked but the yolks still runny, a great way to make a different but easy meal. Served with hot crusty bread, it was sooo delicious. I make a point of buying free range eggs, but these were straight from the hens and I have to say they were the best I've tasted for a long time.
Lots of villagers have hens and although they're generally contained in runs, they're fed all the vegetable scraps and in our lovely landlords' case, their feed is supplemented with grain as well.

Very happy hens
Living here is like taking a step back in time on occasions - we always had hens and free range eggs  on the family farm, but how could I possibly not have appreciated the eggs more at the time?
Speaking of a step back in time, on our early morning walk (or frog march in my case, Russ is congenitally unable to walk at a leisurely pace! - Get the heart rate up, yadee yada), we saw a poissonerie, a mobile fish market, selling his wares at one of the houses we pass on the way. Mobile charcouteries (butcher shops) are also common in the rural areas - now how good is that?

I observed in another post that when buying fruit and vegetables, the question you're asked is 'do you want to eat it today, tomorrow or in so many days?', but also we notice that the fruit never rots before it ripens, which happens for too often at home. Is it that our farmers and retailers don't know how to manage ripening properly? Do the farmers pick fruit too under-ripe? I don't want to over - generalise here, it's not always the case, but it does happen much more than is reasonable. Rotting from the core out before the fruit itself ripens is shocking. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have found this thoroughly annoying.

While I'm showing you around some of our "backyard' here are some photos of the interior of our gite.

It's beginning to feel a bit like home now, and a lot less tidy than when we first arrived!


lamina @ do a bit said...

Hey Rowan, It looks like you guys are having a really fabulous time there... It all looks so lovely and I love those happy hens :)

Natasha (Australia) said...

Just delighted to be hearing about all this DIY 'ing herbs, hens etc.... I'm guessing bartering would be commonplace between the locals?
Not long till the first of our hens start laying now!!