Thursday, 2 October 2008


Food in France is a serious business and there are vegetables gardens everywhere; in yards, in plots and allotments and food growing is central to the lives of these rural communities that I am visiting. I don't know about in the cities but compared to small Australian towns, French towns are a wonderland of food for me.

This ancient little village of Gabian has a boulangerie where Richard goes to buy fresh bread every morning. I asked him when it opens and he said maybe 6am...he has never been there when it hasn't been open in the morning. It closes about 12.30 and then opens again about 4, full of more fresh bread for the evening meals. Sundays they make patisseries and the townsfolk can be seen wandering home with boxes of cakes and goodies for after the Sunday family lunch.....sadly I won't be here on a Sunday!The bakers are a young couple with a baby.

There is a little general store, run by a friendly woman, and apart from essentials she keeps small amounts of local fresh foods like eggs, meat and cheeses you would only find in the central market in Adelaide, like roquefort and Saint Nectaire which we had last night and was superb. For AU$8, Richard bought a quarter of a round of this. Amazing!

Yesterday was market day in the square with just about 5 stalls....vegetables, kitchenware, clothes, fish and a van displaying, as Teleri said, everything you can do with a pig! We bought some Spanish chorizo which was like nothing I have had before as it had lots of roasted capsicum and pieces of smoked pork and was soft and aromatic and I ate far too much of it at lunch time while waiting for the paella to cook on the garden charcoal BBQ. See the photos.

There is always a lot of discussion about food and when other gardeners walk by at the allotment, there is an exchange of food news and it is wonderful. My spoken French is pretty bad but I can understand the gist of what is being said and yesterday I loved being shown around the plot next to Teleri and Richard's and hearing the enthusiasm in the voice of Antoinette as she told me about her dozens of haricots verts (green beans) plants, the cabbages, tomatoes and her new ginger plants, all the time apologising about how poorly it all was when actually it was amazingly abundant!

Suddenly she decided that Richard should dig out a couple of cherry seedlings growing next to her large cherry tree and take them to plant in their garden. There were no ifs or buts about this. She had decided they needed cherry trees and have them today they would! So they were promptly removed and we pruned them as she indicated and took them and planted them straight away. People - gardeners in particular - are always so keen to share and to give, the world over, and in every language.

We took the scenic route if it is not ALL scenic!!..... and viewed Gabian from the top of the hill, up a windy path, which couldn't be called a road, and looked out as people have been doing here for a thousand years......

Today we went to the beach and I swam in the Mediterranean Sea.... a little cool and cloudy but a lovely experience and a beautiful drive. Plus lunch right on the seafront.... then we had to get back in time to catch the seafood van which comes every Thursday and Saturday from 4 to 4.30pm. Today we bought oysters for aperitifs and mussels, which I am going to cook for dinner.

Where do I live, again?


chaiselongue said...

Kate, this is lovely ... I only wish I could write about our life here as well as you do. We've so much enjoyed your stay here, seeing it all through new eyes. And having your help with planting the unexpected cherry trees!

Maggie said...

Well Kate you live up a hill, but I guess it could be any hill.
We are enjoying your trip.
It may be a silly question but tell us about the soil types and any wild or unusual plants you see.

Ian said...

Hi Kate,
you seem to have found the true France down there at Gabian, slow, gentle, and crammed to overflowing with good food and good people..

Deborah Cantrill said...

Hi Kate,
I see your in your ellement there in the country. French 'country' seemed a lot more relaxed than even my slow life.I hope you had an extra peice of saint nectaire cheese for me as its my favorite french flavour. Have you explored any forests or fungus/truffles?