Food, Glorious Food!
You might recognize this title as the opening song to the 1968 film, Oliver! It’s sung by the workhouse boys who are fantasizing about all kinds of wonderful food even though all they ever get is gruel. If you know the lyrics or, at least, the tune, you might sing/hum it in your head to accompany this post. We hope you’re hungry for this one!
We are not “big eaters” and in fact, have pared down our food intake and meals greatly over the years. Our metabolism just doesn’t tolerate as much anymore. However, when we travel, sometimes our regular diet goes on hiatus. We love discovering excellent cuisine and new flavors many of which become part of our regular menus once we return home. I am extremely lucky to have a husband who is passionate about cooking. After so many years commanding the kitchen in our household, he has learned to deconstruct just about anything we are served and then successfully make it himself for us at home. We use an app (currently Paprika) to catalog all our recipes and I am constantly adding new entries at his request.
I actually have an entire iPhoto album devoted to photos of cuisine from our travels and even that is merely a sampling. It’s a combination of meals we have ordered and meals Norman has prepared. Due to the fact that we stay in what are called self-catering accommodations, he is able to do a lot of cooking for us on the road. We always have a full kitchen of some sort even if it’s very small. We try to alternate eating out with eating in for a balanced experience. Most places have pretty much everything we need to cook just about anything. Sometimes you have to be creative. Often at the beginning of our trip, we will invest in a few items to make the process easier like a scale, a salad spinner, and perhaps this time even a simple food mill as Norman has become interested in preparing cold soups which would be fantastic for some of our really warm locals. Today, for example, we had the most delicious Tomato Bisque.
When we attended that Marché Nocturne referred to in the last post, we had ringside seats at a small restaurant, Le Grand Cep, on the square. What an amazing array of plates we enjoyed!
One of the smallest kitchen’s Norman has ever navigated was the one at our charming gîte at Le Betoulle in Saint Claud. This is where we began our lessons in Atlantic fish and what they are called in French. Such a selection at the local markets, but we had no idea what they were and, hence, how to cook them. We went home and did some research then went back to the store with our list. Norman chose a beautiful Grondin Rouge and proceeded to prepare us an outstanding meal. Here he is in that tiny kitchen…
For the third time, when we arrive in the Dordogne region of France for a 2-week stay with our regular hosts, we will be seeking out once again those gigantic artichokes at the market in Périgueux so Norman can make his famous Artichokes Gourmandises. He has many versions and they just keep getting better.
One of our favorite and, frankly, easiest meals is putting together several small plates also known as apéro in France and tapas in Spain. We often do this at home. Since we do not require full-fledged meals to satisfy us, these work very well. A little goes a long way. There is no end to the variety of choices, especially during the summer.
Speaking of tapas… these are called Pintxos (pronounced peen-chos — literally “toothpick food”) in the Basque Country and they do not cost the price of an entree as they often do in the US. We were introduced to them in 2012 on our first visit to San Sebastián, went back for more in 2015, and are excitedly looking forward to spending a week there this summer hanging out at the beach and consuming LOTS of Pintxos. To fully enjoy the Pintxo experience, you wander from one bar to the next in order to sample all the different offerings. The idea is to take your time, socialize, and try to remember not to eat or drink too much at each stop. That’s why you order a Txacoli (small serving of Basque white wine poured from high) or a caña (small beer) to go along with your food that you see here…
So I have my list of restaurants, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and gourmet food shops for each of our stops at the ready. Can’t wait to go out, go shopping, and enjoy more marvelous flavors!