Last week my family performed an intervention. They decided enough was enough with my vegetarian “dabbling”. I am in France for God’s sake and what is staple french fare? MEAT! I was told my head would spin so fast I wouldn’t know what had hit me if I came back from France wearing a hippie skirt and preaching the benefits of a macrobiotic diet. I was instructed to adopt a new mantra: food pyramid. And my Mother ordered that I was to go straight away and cook something that once mooed (or quaked) and ran in the lush green pastures of France.
I don’t understand how my diet changed so dramatically upon my arrival in France. When did I start counting the number of coffees consumed in a week? Why did I stop buying chocolate? When was the last time I drank a wonderful glass of red wine? I think I may have been so paranoid about gaining the mandatory “France weight” that I went in completely the opposite direction and panicked if my meal did not contain at least one pseudo-grain and seven vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t totally wasted this culinary experience (did someone say language experience…?). French menus vary rarely cater for vegetarian diets so on occasion I have had to, been forced to, indulge in foie gras and confit du canard.
There was a time last year when casseroles were my favourite dish. I would be perfectly content to wake up an hour earlier to cube, pat dry and brown a big hunk o’ meat. Let it simmer all day in the crock pot and come home to a comforting bowl of stew, preferably with creamy mashed potatoes. One particularly proud day, I jointed a chicken. Now I dream of being able to completely bone it. But as my Mother pointed out, there won’t be a place for me at the Cordon Bleu if I continue eating salads and lentils.
So here we are Mum, a fitting return to the world of balance I hope:
Je vous présente coq au vin:
I admit, I did feel a sense of trepidation when I walked into the Maison du Fromage to buy deux cuisses de poulet. Though, that could have also been a result of having been in “English mode” all day and now I had to speak french…
I battled through and bought 2 lovely healthy looking chicken thighs with the bone still in. They were even wrapped in butcher’s paper. I bought lardons, french shallots and cute little button mushrooms. I had a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Languedoc region which I had been saving for some obscure reason. I would have preferred a red from Bourgogne but beggars can’t be choosers…
Within 30mins my kitchen was filled with the beautiful aroma of shallots and lardons browning in butter, fresh herbs and red wine.
It was truly a delicious meal and not at all impaired by my choice of accompaniment: microwave brown rice.
Later, while doing the dishes, after having dropped and broken a plate and walked into the bathroom instead of the kitchen, I realised perhaps it isn’t such a great idea to cook with and drink the wine at the same time…