This may not be a ground breaking revelation but I think the French may have been first in the queue when God was giving out lifestyles. i have no doubt that I am not the first Englishman to come home from a holiday there and be more than a little envious that after I return home the locals are going to carry on buying their bread from THAT Boulangerie and eating amazing fresh mussels from the supermarket for only €3 a kilo and choosing whether to have fresh peaches or figs from the market today and and and. The list goes on and with it my wallet gets lighter and my stomach bigger.
There was of course the casual looking in estate agent windows and half hearted discussions of “you know it wouldn’t cost that much to get a holiday home here, we could share it”. But realistically would we ever do it? Can we really afford to buy a place here as well own a house in the UK? Probably not but who doesn’t like a holiday romance, even if the lady in question is rustic (i.e. falling down) farm house in the countryside rather than a tanned French woman?
But even if buying a holiday home isn’t realistic perhaps we can hold on to our French romance a little while longer by taking a piece of the lifestyle home with us? I’d love to take the 2 hour lunch breaks or the fresh bread being baked in every town and village but I might need a Jamie Oliver lead revolution to do that.
I can however embrace the attitude of the French, who are willing to spend money on good quality ingredients and shun sub standard food with questionable nutritious qualities. A simple comparison of an Inter-Marche to Tesco or Asda will tell you that. It may not be possible to buy that kind of food 100% from UK supermarkets but farm shops and small independent shops will offer it.
I can also embrace the simplicity of eating, expensive French food may be massively complicated and contain 100′s of ingredients but everyday French cooking isn’t like that it. It’s about a few simple ingredients prepared with care and shared with friends and a family. I would quite happily eat fresh bread, seafood, salad and wine every night outside in the evening sun until the day I die. Such pleasure from shelling prawns before devouring them with a squeeze of lemon while drinking wine and chatting with family. Even better if the prawns have been gently warmed and smoked on the BBQ firsts.
That is pretty much how we have eaten for the whole time here, with the exception of a couple of nights where we had pasta or pizza for a change. Not that we tired of the seafood but rather felt we ought to change. We didn’t drink expensive wine, less than €6 most of the time, but carefully chosen by my wine industry working brother to maximise the value. To be honest though a €3 bottle of Muscadet was my favourite, perfect companion for the food and weather.
Returning home to autumn in the UK means the stomach begins to yearn for stews and casseroles to keep warm in the dark evenings. Not quite the same but if you apply the principles of French food it means buying a good quality piece of meat (not the same as prime cuts though) and accompanying it with a few simple but fresh ingredients and of course a nice hunk of bread on the side.
I’m also resolved to try to make a pain rustique just like the Boulangerie down the road, a great new challenge for this wannabe baker. The lady of the manor has valiantly volunteered to be chief taster, can’t think why.
P.S. If anyones interested in a chipping in for a holiday home let me know, maybe we could do a crowd sourced purchase via Twitter?