So many croissants, so little time!
The final leg of the European half of our travels took us to Paris and a TGV journey to Aix-en-Provence, followed by a week spent in the hills behind Nice. I would have loved to write about the multiple decadent three-course Provencal spreads we indulged in but, alas, budgets did not allow. I am not, however, implying that we didn’t eat well. We ate very well indeed. Like Kings. But then that’s France for you.
Paris revealed many opportunities to indulge in all the food stuffs that make life worth living – creamy oozing cheeses, fantastic breads and the fully developed flavours of French wines; all at minimal cost.
Good food is so democratic in France. Everyone expects it as if it’s their right: ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’ and cuisine being one and the same. It really does feel as though to be served something substandard is an offence. We, of course, indulged in the ubiquitous croissant, baguette and numerous pastries; we also tasted some fantastic moules frites, millefeuille of goat’s cheese and aubergine, pot au feu, Provençal olives – the list goes on.
What I am always really impressed by in France (as well as most Mediterranean nations) is the quality of produce available in addition to the way people choose and purchase their 5-a-day.
In the London the ‘norm’ seems to be, mostly for convenience’s sake, supermarket chosen, plastic pre-packaged veg. Often with no ability to smell, touch, squeeze or talk to a knowledgeable person about quality the produce is, in addition, sold by the unit and not by the kilo. Crazy.
I know the supermarket shop is necessary and the trend for all-in-one-shopping that negates the green grocer is creeping into even the Med but I really do think it’s a great shame.
While nestled away in the hill behind the small town of Vence in Provence, B and I ate well and often. Fresh salads made from the bitter-leafed greens, vinaigrette and figs coated in grilled goat’s cheese, Italianesque minestrone made with market fresh veg of all shapes and sizes, and ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers – what a treat. It’s produce like this that makes cooking an absolute breeze – perhaps that’s where one should start in attempting to encourage healthy eating?