Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Provence A-Z Part Trois

I started this project months ago... and wrote two whole blogs about it and made it about a third of the way through the A's.
(In case you want to catch up-  Provence A-Z and Provence A-Z Part Deux)
It's time for the third installment now.  Past time, really.

This is donkey in French.  I had no donkey photos or stories until I was Chez Fanny in Pujaut back in January.
(Of course, this placemat has nothing to do with donkeys.  We found it while roaming around in Uzès in March and couldn't resist it.)
Revenons à nos ânes...
In January, the French celebrate Epiphany with many, many king's cakes.  Some are puff pastry filled with almond paste

and some are a brioche-type, covered in candied fruit and sugar.

I, being the world-renowned gourmande (well, at least in France and the US), needed to sample both types.  Bakers bake a little figurine into the cakes.  Ceramic usually.  They can be most anything-  monuments, famous people religious figures, etc. I got one in the form of the Tour Philippe le Bel, which I plan to climb again in July.

Now, to the theme of the entry... Mme P's son got a donkey and shepherd in his slice of cake and a little light bulb went off in my head.  I knew even then that I needed a photo of a Provençal âne.  So, he and I set up a photo shoot on the ledge of "my" bedroom window.
Adorable, non?
No donkey recipes today.

Anglais, Les
The English.  Peter Mayle is the authority on this one, pas moi.  I have met a few, am probably somehow descended from one or two, and speak their language.  Some of their English expressions are funny.  (Hoovering for vacuuming is one of the funniest to me.)  My English-teaching French friends have English accents.  They teach from books that use English English, not American English.  Anyway, when I saw this entry, I immediately thought of a man who met the Arles 6 for dinner when we were in southwest France in 2008.
(left to right: Pat, Arles Lucy, Betty, Dr. Rich, me, the Anglais, Joan)
We had a lovely dinner at a little local auberge that night.  Pat had met the Anglais through a friend by email when we were looking for a house to rent.  He, along with many other Anglais, have homes in France.  (And I would, too, if I could.)  Anyway, he was on his way down to his house and stopped in to have dinner with us, les Américains.  The only part of the conversation I remember is his comment during dessert that we were a very nice group even if we were Americans.  Really.  He meant it in the nicest possible way, I'm sure.

Antiquités et Antiquaires
Mayle wonders why we have this urge to acquire old stuff that belonged to others.  Bonne question, monsieur.  I only have a few things like that.  My favorite is a footstool that belonged to my grandmother.
It was made for her by a man who made grandfather clocks in Spruce Pine, Mr. Stroup.  My grandmother cleaned his house.
In France, brocanteries are everywhere.  These are antique/secondhand shops where you can find just about anything.  My friend Didier has one in Arles on rue de Quatre Septembre.  My theory on why there are so many shops in France is that there is a lot of stuff since people have been collecting stuff there for thousands of years.  Makes sense to me.  The antique market that Mayle describes in detail is the one in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  He advises against looking like a rich tourist (I will have no trouble with that).  I have that on the BFF itinerary on July 8.  I promise to take lots and lots of photos and search for a little trinket.  Who knows what I might find?

Apothicaires, Rose des
Roses are red, violets are blue...
Do the Frenchies have a version of that little rhyme?  I must remember to ask.  I love roses.  The smell, the colors, the petals strewn everywhere after a French wedding.  I know nothing about apothecary roses, though.  Obviously, medicinal qualities have been found in them or they wouldn't be named that, would they?  Mayle writes about the Mas de la Brune and its rose gardens.  So, I googled it and found that it is a beautiful château where one can go for cooking seminars, alchemy seminars (not sure at all what this is), music festivals, and other cultural events.  It is in Eygalières, a little village south of Avignon.
Here are my favorite Provence rose photos, taken at Mme P's house back in January--

Trop belles, ces roses provençales...

Apta Julia
This was the old Roman name for the town of Apt.  Evidently, Apt is the capital of the aforementioned and photographed candied fruit.  I have never been there, but I have tasted the fruit of their labors.  And it is delicious, believe me.  Just sweet enough and absolutely beautiful.
Not a great photo, unfortunately...

Artichauts à la Barigoule
A special recipe for artichokes.  A barigoule is was a mushroom back in the day, but now extinct although the word is still used in recipes.  There are plenty of other mushrooms available, though-

I do not have a lot of experience with artichauts except in dips and taking photos of them at the outdoor markets.

And to finish the A's- enfin -
I was lucky enough to spend an entire autumn in Provence in 2008.  While there were not many trees in Arles to change colors the way they do in my Appalachian Mountains, we did go for a drive one afternoon in October and I got some fall photos in the Ardèche.  This is my favorite one.

I brought home both a French and English version of this cookbook.  It features 280 recipes gathered from cooks throughout Provence.  It is published by Editions Fleurines, 2006.
It features several of Chef Érick's recipes.  Sometimes I just pull it off the shelf and flip through it.  Lo and behold, mes amis, I found a recipe for...

Artichokes à la barrigoule
Cachofle à la barigoulo (in Provençal)
 "This traditional recipe is the recipe of artichokes in barrigoule!  Other recipes say they cook artichokes as mushrooms à la barigoulo cut in 2 on a grill with olive oil."

serves 6

6 artichokes
2 carrots
250 g ( 1 3/4 cups) sliced mushrooms
8 long slices of bacon
2 garlic cloves
2 onions
1 parsley bunch
1 branch of thyme
1 cup of white wine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut off the stems of the artichokes, and cut off the sharp leaf tops.  Blanch the artichokes in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and let cool.
Chop finely 2 bacon slices, the mushrooms, the parsley and garlic.  Salt and pepper this mixture, then add to a large casserole with olive oil and sauté until wilted.
Scoop out the center of each artichoke and stuff with the mushroom mixture.  Wrap each artichoke with a slice of bacon and tie to fix.
Mince the onions, cut the carrots in sticks, and in a pan with olive oil sauté both, add the thyme, then the artichokes, then the wine and as much water.
Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes over a low flame, stirring from time to time.  The sauce should reduce to half its quantity.
To serve, untie the bacon and ladle the sauce atop.

Bon appétit, Provence A's!

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