Mention France to anyone and more than likely they will think of French cuisine. The French are renowned for their excellent food and for the important role that food and meal times play in their culture and that is something that I have really come to appreciate.
After years of learning and appreciating the importance of meal times in families, I’ve now discovered meal times also important in a busy hospital environment. Twice this year I have been in hospital at lunch time and have been provided with food and watched as nurses, Doctors and technicians stop and have their lunch too.
The first time I was in ER and they were keeping me in to see a specialist. As I was there at lunch time they served me a tray of food. Nothing exciting. Just some mashed potato and something that bore a resemblance to chicken, along with a salad and yoghurt for dessert. But still, I was in an ER department, not exactly where you’d expect to get a free lunch!
The second time was yesterday. I had to spend the day at hospital in Lyon for testing and to see various Doctors. As I had to be nil by mouth upon arrival (and boy did I complain about that!) I was promptly asked what I wanted for breakfast and fed within minutes of my blood exams. How relieved was I? They certainly knew how to get me in a good mood and even when they told me they’d forgotten to book my MRI scan I was not that bothered.
After a morning of hanging around, having x-rays and enough blood taken to feed a vampire I had chosen to sit in the corridor avoiding all the sick people in the waiting room as I didn’t want to deal with any more germs than Baby Piglet brings home.
I was so engrossed in a novel that I didn’t notice it was lunchtime that I was taken my surprise when a nurse came and said that my lunch was being served. She seemed surprised that I wasn’t already in the lunch room with the other patients.
Off I trotted and was greeted by ten or so patients cheerfully tucking into lunch. I was asked to take a seat and then was served up a four course meal: red cabbage salad with a bread roll to start, chicken and almond tagine with vegetables and semoule for my main, chocolate éclair for dessert and yoghurt for my second dessert. Wow! Only thing missing was a bottle of wine!
To be honest the food was quite bland but there was salt and pepper available and it was more than edible. It was much better than a sandwich or McDonalds which I thought that I’d have to go out and get for my lunch (there is a McDonalds opposite the hospital). The chocolate éclair was heavenly and as I was later told by a Doctor to lose weight I am so glad they provided it and I ate it.
You’ve got to hand it to the French though, the food I ate yesterday was far better than some of the meals I paid to have out in the UK!
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Are you my dinner?
Snails for dinner… No way, Yuck! If someone had told me once that I would like or even be able to manage to eat snails for dinner I would never have believed them until I’d actually come face to face with a plate of snails.
And yet, once I had mastered the art of delicately hoisting them out of the shell with the fork and bringing them up level with my mouth all whilst keeping my eyes firmly squeezed tight (you just don’t want to see their little antennae’s when putting it in your mouth) I actually quite like the things!
I think my liking of snails has more to do with the lovely, rich garlic and parsley butter sauce but even so. These are not words you would expect to hear from me as I’m quite fussy when it comes to food.
I’ve now been eating snails for 11 years and love tucking into them at Christmas and on other special occasions. My Belle-Mere buys them by the dozen for me, knowing that I’ll eat a few dozen on my own if left to my own devices. I still can’t quite believe it myself you know, me eat snails? Nah you must be joking I’d have thought.
Have you experienced anything similar where you thought you’d hate a food but actually loved it?
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Rather than write about politics and the UK Election results today I thought I’d share a recent gastronomical experience with you.
My French family in law are quite the gastronomes and my Belle-Mere is such a good cook it’s a really daunting experience whenever I have to cook for them. I’m sure everyone knows someone like her; the type of person who can throw together a feast from nothing and who can easily follow a recipe and have the food come out looking like it’s supposed to.
Anyway, last Sunday I was brave enough to face the supermarket after everything in France closed on the Saturday for the Fete de Travail national holiday. It was a nice change to visit a different supermarket in a different area of France and I leisurely strolled around admiring all the produce which I could buy (but didn’t as I had to take back a sofa suite to Lyon – see yesterdays Jardinage Jeudi). At lunch I was commenting on how my beaux parents (BP) were lucky to have such a wonderful choice of interesting produce in their local supermarket.
You can buy all types of things that I’ve never seen in Lyon, such as delicate little cheeses filled with fig or honey for the aperitif, fig bread or olive sticks for dipping. Our conversation continued as we each recalled different produce that we purchase and enjoy.
Then the conversation turned to things that we couldn’t find anymore and my Beau-Pere mentioned that they couldn’t buy buns anymore. I immediately thought he was referring to a sweet delicacy that I was obviously missing out on given how highly he was speaking of them. I was then really confused when everyone started talking about the pros and cons of Bolognese and Leek fillings.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t cotton on, as ready-made frozen food isn’t really my thing (except for Picard, but that’s another story) so I eventually asked. As it turns out they were talking about frozen fast food, no less than McCain’s Buns!
Now who would have thought that you would hear such a conversation at a French dinner table? Not me for sure and it’s not exactly what I thought I would be hearing from my In-laws!
A really missed delicacy - My French BP's cannot find these in their local supermarket!
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