Quintessential France: A Beach in Normandy

By Friday, July 22, 2016 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

I wish I were on this beach in Normandy today, walking on the Trouville promenade, the French flag flying high and proud, the sea breeze in my locks. I might fling off that long, thick dress with its petticoat, however, and walk shoeless into the sea and stick my toes in the chilly water, before going up for coffee and a Madeleine in that little tower in the half-timber house looking out to sea. That’s me in the blue dress, of course; I always wear a color that matches the sky.

****

This painting is from the current exhibit at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. By Claude Monet, The Boardwalk on the Beach at Trouville, 1870.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Quintessential France: Château du Marais

By Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Permalink 0

Quintessential France: Château du Marais

by Jonell Galloway

Château du Marais, castle of the marshland, Essonne 91, France, Talleyrand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s built in a marsh — thus the name, Château du Marais — and the water you see in front is the overflow from what you call the plan d’eau in French, meaning literally “water plane,” which is basically a mirror lake. As soon as there is sun, you can see a silvery reflection of the house, and sometimes the clouds, in the water. I lived in a bit of this house for 18 years. Because the little lake and the house are almost at the same level for the sake of aesthetics, and because the house is built on filled-in marsh, it takes very little to flood it. We always had our rubber boots ready and many the time I had to walk through knee-deep water and across the courtyard to get out. We’d park our cars on higher ground and wade to them if we truly had to go somewhere outside our little world. It was like being a princess locked inside a castle, except I wasn’t a princess. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel peas under my mattress.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

D-Day in Chartres

By Tuesday, June 7, 2016 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

The rain stopped in its tracks and the summer came down in a billow and I got out my summer dresses. The dogs lay down in the grass high from rain, rolling and frolicking with their limber legs toward heaven as the blue sky pushed its way through the month-long gray clouds. Teenage girls walked bare-armed, not yet tattooed, and young women strolled bare-legged in vintage print dresses resembling those in the Liberation photos but with tattoos blending into the flowers of their dresses. In 1944, it was D-Day on the shores of Normandy, but Chartres was occupied until mid-August, with the first American soldiers arriving in Proust’s beloved Illiers-Combray at 1 p.m. on August 15 and in Chartres at 10:30 a.m. on August 16th, my birthday. The people here love Americans; even young people repeat the stories their grandparents recounted of the American tanks driving up our street of St. Pierre a few days later and the 85-year-old butcher hugs me every time he sees me, as if I had been there and helped. The first time I came here, it was as if I’d found my home so far away from home, where I could wear pink and blue floral dresses like my grandmothers’ and wear white socks and sandals and dance in the same streets Jean Moulin had walked and feel free.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Views of Chartres: Wheat Threshers

By Monday, June 6, 2016 Permalink 0

“A bare-chested sun-tanned peasant threshes the wheat, section of August from the Zodiac and the labors of the months stained glass window, 1217, in the ambulatory of Chartres Cathedral, Eure-et-Loir, France. This calendar window contains scenes showing the zodiacal symbol with its corresponding monthly activity. Chartres cathedral was built 1194-1250 and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Most of its windows date from 1205-40 although a few earlier 12th-century examples are also intact. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.”–Art Archive

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

What to Eat in France: Pain du Moulin

By Thursday, June 2, 2016 Permalink 0

What to Eat in France: Pain du Moulin, or “bread from the mill”

by Jonell Galloway

My adopted hometown of Chartres is in the Beauce region, the breadbasket of France. Large, flat wheat fields surround the single hill of Chartres, topped with the most beautiful Gothic Cathedral in the world. You can see the cathedral for miles when driving across the fields, and a quite magical view it is, its spires dominating the flat farmlands. No wonder people have been making pilgrimages here for at least 5,000 years.

Chartrains, as we call the people from here, come from the land. Everyone in the region has a farm or has family who owns one, and because of the abundance of grains of every kind — wheat, barley, corn, rye and many more — grains are an integral part of the local diet.

This traditional recipe is referred to as “bread from the mill,” but no one knows the exact origin of that name. In the past, the Beaucerons (the inhabitants of the Beauce region), of Celtic and Druidic origins, ate this on the Jour des Morts, the day of the dead, which fell on November 2 after All Saint’s Day, when the living were said to communicate with the dead, when tombs and graves were said to open so that the world of the visible and invisible could intermingle for a short period.

 

Pain du moulin / bread from the mill, French recipe from Chartres/Beauce, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in the morning of November 2, local bakers made pain aux morts, or “bread to the dead” (this could even be translated in a more ghoulish manner, “bread (made from) the dead”), out of flour and milk, for a traditional 10 a.m. breakfast before going to the cemetery.

In the nineteenth century, the church decided that All Saints Day sufficed and such pagan customs were more or less done away with. Beaucerons continue to eat this bread during the All Saints celebrations, however, calling it “bread from the mill” instead of “bread to the dead.”

I often serve this recipe with apéritif, but it can also make a vegetarian dinner, and can, of course, be eaten year round.

Recipe

Ingredients

Pain au lait, French milk bread, Chartres/Beauce, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pains au lait or 3-4″-long milk breads
6 cups milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese or similar, grated
Cooking oil
Kitchen string

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread in half lengthwise.
  2. Use a spoon to scrape the crumbs out of the crust, taking care to leave the crust intact, and put the crumbs in a bowl.
  3. Pour milk over crumbs and mix.
  4. Add the eggs and the grated cheese and mix well.
  5. Fill the crusts with the bread crumb mixture.
  6. Use kitchen string to tie the bread halves together.
  7. Heat cooking oil in a deep pan or fryer. When the oil starts to bubble, drop in the bread and cheese preparations.
  8. Cook until golden brown.
  9. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately while hot.

 

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Food Quote: Erik Satie on French Cuisine

By Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Permalink 0

En Art, j’aime la simplicité ; de même, en cuisine. / In art, I like simplicity; the same goes for cuisine.–Erik Satie (Honfleur 1866-Paris 1925), in Cahiers d’un Mamifère.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Slow Life in Chartres, the Breadbasket of France

By Sunday, February 14, 2016 Permalink 0

Eating and Drinking in Chartres, the Breadbasket of France

by Jonell Galloway

Kentucky is far from Chartres, but not so far as one might think. Biscuits and cornbread were the bond that held us together in Kentucky; wheatfields and bread do the same in Chartres. We like white gravy; the Chartrains, as they’re called, like sauce. Isn’t white gravy a sauce, after all?

Growing up in Kentucky, I embraced the Slow Food concepts without ever knowing it. Wendell Berry was my breakfast, lunch and supper, after all. The French have never fully embraced the official Slow Food concept of Good, Clean and Fair, since they consider that French cuisine and agriculture already embrace these values and do not need an organization – especially an Italian association with an English name – to teach them about their own time-honored traditions. One might say that the French are arrogant and chauvinist, which I would never totally deny, but it is this very pride that has maintained a high level of quality in the world of artisanal food and agriculture.

I have lived in the Beauce region, the bread basket of France, for over 15 years. The hill of Chartres is surrounded by wheat and grain fields and when you go to the bakers, they actually mark the name of the millers who provided the grain for particular breads. It’s all rather magical for those who have a holistic view of the world. The Beauce is all about farming, in particular, wheat, grain and sugar beets, but also goat cheese, pork products, rabbits, beer, apples and apple cider products, pears, chickens, rapeseed, etc. My goal has been to find all the best producers and growers and support them in every way possible.

Continue Reading…

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

A Brief History of Confit

By Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

A Brief History of Confit and Food Preservation in France

Une ingénuité confite de vieille fille. / The preserved naivity of a spinster.–Colette, La Naissance du Jour / Break of Day

I like my man to be a bit confit. Confit is my favorite French word. It can mean many things, but the meaning always implies intensity to the point of being almost sweet, and sometimes sickly sweet.

The word comes from the Latin, conficiere, meaning “to do” or “to make,” and is the root of other familiar words like confiture and confection,” says Kate McDonough. “It can equally describe flavoring and preserving foods in other substances, as fruit in sugar, olives in oil, pickles in vinegar, or capers in salt.”

Confit de canard - duck confit from Gascony, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the food world, there are two main meanings, although the term basically means “preserved;” there are, of course, many ways of preserving food. The first refers to something candied or crystallized, such as the fruits confits so popular in France, especially at Christmas and during other holiday periods. The second refers to a savory food either cooked in its own juices or preserved.

The French confit we know best is canard confit, or duck confit, which is traditionally cooked in a copper pot over a fire for up to 24 hours so that its fat oozes out and envelops it. It is then stored in its own fat and conserved in a jar for up to a year.

Pickles and salted capers also count as confits. Another common one is tomates confites, or confit tomatoes, which are slow-cooked like duck in a low-temperature oven until they become almost sweet like candy. Intense, yes.

Continue Reading…

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

How to Become a Chef in France

By Saturday, January 9, 2016 Permalink 1

How to Become a Chef in France

by Jonell Galloway

Schooling Required

Becoming a chef in France requires a long commitment, both in terms of schooling and on-the-job training. The program is similar to that of a vocational school, but requires many years of on-the-job experience before one can be called “chef.”

A typical French kitchen brigade looks like the diagram below. To become a chef, you basically have to work your way up from the bottom. Each level in the hierarchy may take a few years to master. It all looks rather daunting, but the French start young, around the age of 14, with chefs following what is referred to as a vocational track rather than a general high school.

Typical kitchen brigade in France

After Troisième or 8th/9th Grade

Continue Reading…

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Still Life with Flowers and Fruit, by Pierre Auguste Renoir

By Monday, January 4, 2016 Permalink 0

Quintessential France: Still Life with Flowers and Fruit, by Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

UA-21892701-1
WordPress Backup