Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

The French Paradox,
Occitanian kids and food

August 11, 2008

Collapsed child guest at the Auberge de la Filature, Saint-Bauzille-du-Putois, Debra Solomon,
Small child napping on the dinner garden path

A few weeks ago at a dinner where a meat-rich hors d’oeuvre was enjoyed during the conversation course, two little girls, probably 9 or 10 yrs old, were standing before an elaborate platter laden with rillettes on toast, discussing this informal snack.

“Oh, I just LOVE Laure’s goose rillettes, the bay, the thyme, it’s SOOO aromatic. It just opens up in your mouth!”

“Yes, and such a delicate texture, not too fine, none too curdy.”

“Oh yes! And the melting point of the goose fat on your tongue, that cooling effect, it’s like the way chocolate melts!”

“I could just eat them every day.” “Mmm mmmm, me too!”

Little Occitanian girls discussing a heady mixture of everything-but-the-squeal goose parts, butt and brain, and skin and vein, meat and fat, nose hole to tail hole eating.

And although not meat related, child-behaviour-related: What a delightful little boy last night at the restaurant, 3 yrs old, playing with another guest’s dog. The boy had too much energy to sit down, but his parents just let him do his thing, focussing on their exquisite dinners, and anyway unable to reign him in as he trotted out a dance with the dog between the tables. He weaved through the clumps of hedge-couched guests, all around the garden with the dog in tow. As the evening got on, he wore himself out, twice collapsing in a puddle of his own fatigue and falling into slumbers right on the ground. Very cute. Then one parent or another would scoop him up, and he was suddenly really small again. He refuelled on a snuggle, a micro nap and morsels of meat from their plates, and then took off again for more adventure, the source of all our smiles.

Maybe this is the real French Paradox, children enjoying eating. Appreciation of the entire animal starts early here and I witness time and time again children who are actively interested in food during preparation, but especially during dining. Could it be that the secret of getting children to eat is about making it delicious?

debra at 7:56 | Comments (2) | post to

An urban vegetarian in the land of meat

August 10, 2008

Terrine of calf's liver e.a. Auberge de la Filature, Saint-Bauzille-du-Putois, Debra Solomon,
Mauve and merveilleuse, the house terrine

“In the city she’s a vegetarian, but here in the country, she puts entire pigs in her body!”

And sheep. And geese. And this is how my dear friends describe me, as an urban vegetarian.

Each day on my way down to the kitchen garden, I ride past a gaggle of geese that live in a large enclosure with views to the surrounding mountains, the river and a wall dotted with 12th century water wheels. On walks up in the mountains we encounter herds of sheep foraging for chestnuts and in another nearby microclimate, we find them nibbling and kicking up loads of dust perfumed with wild thyme. Considering the quality of life led by the animals here (and the lives of those that tend to them), it seems downright unethical not to tuck in.

Here in Occitania the quality of every single link in the supply chain, from the living animal to the prepared meat dish that I’m about to taste, is fuelled with a love of quality, a quality that gives honour to the environment of both the humans and the animals, a very high quality of the food craft, something stronger than love for the materiality of the ingredients and their ambling route to the end product, and a praiseworthy understanding of how to optimally use every single part of an animal once you’ve taken its life. It seems to be common practice here, and common knowledge. Meat without one secret. Thank you, Beautiful Beasts! For what it’s worth, you have become memorable!

Guests twilight dining at the Auberge de la Filature, Saint-Bauzille-du-Putois, Debra Solomon,
Charmed garden during twilight dining

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It’s not a cheese, it’s a drug

August 3, 2008

High-making munstercheese, Debra Solomon,

Yes, you can totally get high off of cheese! We scored this slab of dairy perfection off some savvy lady cheese dealers on the market. Brung it on home, but where to put it, save the obvious eating off the wrapper with spoons?

Fridge too cool, kitchen table too hot. And I’m not lying or amplifying, exaggerating or embellishing when I report that just putting this little cheese on the table begat vivid fantasies of installing a cheese room!

Dear Gosh,

I know you read my blog regularly and hope you don’t mind posing a question to you in this way. Our recent acquisition of a munster-style bite of heaven got us to pondering why some cheeses seem to not travel very well. In particular, we’re wondering about how to optimally store (and eventually keep with us at all times) this munster-style cheese. Any information and tips you could give us would be appreciated, you know how we love our cheese course!

Thank you.


Your ever-luvvin’ fan of raw milk dairy products

debra at 8:42 | Comments (0) | post to

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