Our word for today is fête. It's French for celebration. Posting about bread, or at least grain, yesterday, had me thinking about festivities. I equate festivities with food. Or, maybe, it's food that makes things festive.
Lunch, with a baguette from Jules, our French patisserie around the corner, and some cheese is always a celebration, especially in summer when we eat in the garden. At lunch, we discuss dinner - I know, I have trouble losing weight. This summer we have had lunch and dinner in the garden almost every day. What could be more festive?
Needless to say, I grow vegetables, as well as flowers, in the garden. This year my aubergines, I'm sticking with the French for eggplant, have produced their deep purple fruit early and I have had ratatouille for dinner often. Scented with fresh basil, this sauté of tomatoes, garlic, onion, courgette, and aubergine is, in itself, a fête.
My husband is a "foodie." He cooks Boeuf a la Bourguigonne, Coq au Vin and Cassoulet
. I may love Italian food, but I revere French. My brother-in-law read Escoffier
and gave me a copy for Christmas one year. I may never make all of the 200 or 300 sauces in the book, but I can dream.
Both Italy and France treat food as a celebration more, I think, than other countries. There is a certain spareness to Scandinavian cooking, a blandness to British and a hodge-podge to North American. Somehow, pork and beans is not the celebration of taste that Cassoulet is.
That being said, we often have a festive meal of BBQed ribs, or tacos and secretly, I would love to make Boston backed beans. My husband turns up his nose at the thought. He says he doesn't like molasses, but he gets me to make a sauce with molasses to go with salmon, often. Hmmm.
I freeze batches of pesto to celebrate summer in winter, however, I have never really found a dish that celebrates winter in summer, except, maybe, ice cream. We have to have festive meals in winter because winter is long, and dark and cold. I make soups and stews interspersed with dishes of clams and mussels. I make paella and curried lamb shanks. We walk to Cumbrae's, a celebrated butchers on Bayview. I gaze at the beef carcasses in the window - not your average window dressing, but just fine for a butcher. We salivate over steaks and chops that are two or three inches thick and I fondle the bottles of olive oil at $40.00, $50.00 or more.
The only product I buy in Cumbrae's except for their exquisite frozen pastas and delicious meat pies are soup bones - chicken or beef. At $1.59 a pound they are the cheapest product in the store. You have to ask for them, though. They are never displayed. I buy five pounds at a time and then go next door to the Italian fruit and veg shop to buy the biggest carrots, celery and onions I can find, for my mirepoix, my soup flavouring.
Then, I spend all day cooking. It's a ritual. Every Fête, of course, has it's own ritual - a marriage, a birthday, an anniversary, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentines, Pancake Tuesday, Canada Day, people arriving, people leaving, retirement, new job, a raise.
We celebrate the feats in our life with feasts. Bon Fête!!
The pictures? Why, food of course!! Except for the picture of the empty plate. I took it at Bofinger in Paris in 2014. My brother-in-law took us there for lunch one day. I had raspberry soup for dessert. Something else to make.
Have a satisfying day!