27 May, 2011

Catch your train!

I often hear foreign friends saying the French spend so much time eating. In some sense, I guess they are right.

Last Sunday I was hosting the soon-to-be-married Hannah and Tim who had come over from England. Their train home was leaving from Gare du Nord at 15.15. I thought if we started early, there would be enough time to enjoy a real traditional home-cooked gastronomic French lunch.

Everything was ready in the kitchen for lunch when Hannah and Tim finally awoke at noon.

They had their apéritif straight out of bed and shower! We only started on the food around 12.30: radish leaf clear soup, green salad with pan-fried duck breast slices, roast pork and assorted vegetables, asparaguses, cheese platter, Bordeaux red and Burgundy white wines. It was already 14.15 when I brought the îles flottantes dessert onto the table and Hannah just noticed that her train ticket needed to be changed if she wanted to leave on the 15.15 service to London. So Tim and Hannah left in a hurry without finishing their dessert; no coffee, tea or digestif...

The lesson I have learned: don't start a gastronomic French meal if you have a train to catch, even with three hours to spare.

Catch your train
Scorpions, Original album classics, Sony BMG

Photo: Ben Kreunen

07 May, 2011

Lisboa cidade

The past week end I travelled to Lisbon in Portugal with the Choeur Varenne. We call it our "tour": every year we choose a city somewhere in France or in Europe; we find a church or concert hall in which to sing one of our programmes for a local audience; but it is a really good excuse to spend a week end among friends while visiting interesting places and tasting the local food.

What I enjoy most in Portugal is the pastries. There is one, if not two or three local specialty recipes in each village. When one moves around the country, one gets to taste a great variety of delicious pastries, for breakfast, mid-morning break, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. Sweet tooth heaven!

In this country even the carved stones in churches can be eaten.

Minha Lisboa de mim
Katia Guerreiro, Fado maior, Ocarina