France: Cooking Class in Normandy Part 3

Day 9  Friday, October 3, 2014

Just Say Yes

Today felt very French. We headed to the local market this morning with our cooking instructor and the dog to pick up a few items we needed for cooking class. We stopped at Sinead’s favorite vegetable farmer who still plows his field using a donkey. We bought some lovely yellow and green mini-eggplants, a zucchini, shallots, and tomatoes.

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We then went to the fishmonger for mussels, fish fillets, and shrimp.

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Of course we had to stop by the cheese guy for some aged goat cheese and a slice of his cheesecake. Home to cook.

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Just look at that!

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Today’s menu seemed rather ambitious, but we dove in. When the dust finally settled a couple of hours later we had the most amazing lunch. The first course was a Parmesan shortbread under a vegetable medley and tomato chutney topped with aged goat cheese.

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The main course was a seafood stew with Jim-made fish stock, curry, cider, vegetables, and three types of seafood poured over a harissa crostini.

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For dessert—get ready for this one—we had a coffee and walnut meringue roulette with whipped cream and mascarpone. We felt very proud of ourselves.

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Food porn

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While this week has certainly been a cooking experience, it has been more about looking at the relationship between food and culture. The people, stories, and laughing have helped make the food a more minor part of the enjoyment—which is saying a lot because the food has been off the charts.

For any of you who were concerned, the teurgoule bowl has been located. Sinead went into the store that we four Yanks visited on Wednesday, and she was sold several of them. Perhaps they just didn’t want them to be sold to outsiders. One bowl is going to find a welcome home on the prairie.

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Our dinner tonight may become the source of legends. We went to the home and part-time restaurant of the man with the bread oven we met on Wednesday http://www.auberge-bunehou.com/. On the first Friday of each month, he hosts a pig roast. We arrived at 8:00 (dinner is eaten late in France), and noshed on some starters, including chicken/pork/rabbit terrine (delicious!), savory bread with sausage, blood pudding (can’t get enough of it!), and aperitifs.

Then we moved upstairs (with 40 or so other guests) for the feasting. But first, Francois asked for four strong, intelligent, good-looking men to help him carry the roasted (whole) pig from the oven to the tables. Jim was drafted and served as a litter bearer.

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We made friends—despite language obstacles—with two other couples at our table. They were neighbors of the inn, and, as Francois’s favored guests, they were awarded the head of the pig. So we got to sample some of the tastiest (read: grossest) parts of the pig to start the main meal.

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After that, more pork arrived, along with roasted veggies, more pork, followed by a little more pork. Although stuffed, we were offered a cheese course, and then for dessert, France’s finest teurgoule appeared, and was promptly devoured. Tears of joy were shed.

If the evening had ended there, it would have been a highlight, but we were then escorted downstairs where a jazz band was playing in the style of Django Reinhardt. Wow. It is some of the happiest music ever written.

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What a night!

We stayed until the end, then drove home to our inn. It will be so hard to leave tomorrow, though we know that more adventures await us.

 

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