Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Roast

To celebrate my mother's arrival, on Friday I decided to splash out and order a joint of veal from the butcher for Sunday lunch. We went to fetch it yesterday morning, and, as I paid, I wondered how people manage to shop there regularly; it cost more than my normal weekly meat bill. As a flush of overspendingitus came over me, I thought we might as well throw caution to the wind and suss out the traiteur shop for an entrée. Strangely, there were no delectable things in small pastry cases or multi-coloured verrines, so we headed for the market stalls instead.

There, the canny oyster lady had cooked up some mussels in aïoli, and they were so delicious, sweet and tender that we had to have some, and some oysters too. I asked the oyster lady if she could open the oysters, not wishing, myself, to gouge out part of my hand and spend the rest of the day in the emergency department. She said she would, but she also said she wasn't born knowing how. Of course not, practice makes perfect, but everyone has a skill and that one is hers. I have other skills that she doesn't but I don't go around making snippy remarks to that effect. What is it about the French that they have to remind you how crap you are at something?

We finished up at the greengrocer who is locally known as 'le voleur' for the ridiculous prices he charges. Having seen a little sign for Garriguette strawberries, we thought they would do nicely. While we were there, we got a pineapple too. One punnet of strawberries and a pineapple. Guess how much they cost. Over €5 or under? How about over €10 or under? In fact they cost €12, the most expensive pineapple in the world setting us back a whopping €7. Le voleur lived up to his name yet again!

My mother was looking forward to long lazy French lunch so that is what we had, with champagne and wine to wash it all down. The veal was nice, but was it THAT nice? I'm not sure. My TWDB said that his mother travels 50km to buy her joints when she gets a call that the farmer is sending the calves to slaughter. His meat is so fine that she's prepared to make the effort. I wouldn't drive 50km to buy the joint we had yesterday and I wouldn't even know where to begin to find a supplier that good. Not that I have the means to indulge such foodie whims anyway.

I roasted it, as suggested by the butcher, for an hour, going into a cold oven set at 190°C, with roast potatoes and a medley of roasted root veg - parsnips, turnips, carrots. My youngest did a great job peeling and chopping. He insisted on having no help, and wielded the sharp knife like a pro. My mother and I were most impressed. Not having to prepare everything helped it taste that much nicer for me. Have you noticed that food you don't prepare tastes better than that which you've slaved over for hours? The greatest gift you can give a woman who cooks is a meal not cooked by herself.

Which is what I gave my mother yesterday.


  1. We also have a local greengrocer who is 'Le voleur' I don't go in there anymore as it is too expensive and your not allowed to touch the produce, which is most un French.

    I agree, meals always taste better when cooked by others.

    I hope your Mother enjoyed her long, lazy lunch and has a wonderful visit.

  2. You know we were shopping at Swaffham market on satuday and fully ripe pineapples were £1 each. How could we resist. The brown shrimps were expensive at £3.50 for a samll bag but boy are they good.We lived in Metz for a time it had a first class indoor market.

  3. Have a great time with your mother..I'm sure she really appreciated being able to have a meal that she hadn't had to prepare herself.
    It sounds a supermenu, but the prices! I'd be wincing too.
    As for the fishwife....I'd be telling her how and where to stuff her oysters...

  4. My mother very much enjoyed her lunch. It was fully of yummy things which she doesn't usually eat at home so she was delighted.

    Johnny - we have great indoor markets here too but they are in the middle of Montpellier so a pain to get to, and really pricey too.

    fly, I had a retort on the tip of my tongue, but told her my mother had just come out from the UK and was keen to try the oysters, at which point she changed attitude and went all nice and helpful.

  5. That's so true about food you cooked yourself not tasting as good (no remarks about the standard of my cooking, please!). Cooking kills my appetite, although I generally enjoy doing it.
    The other big present, of course, is to clear up afterwards, though why I am saying this here, instead of downstairs in the kitchen I have no idea...

  6. Pueblo Girl, I'm so with you on the clearing up!! A loathesome task.

  7. It isn't the cooking I hate, it's the planning. I don't want to cook proper meals every day. If it were just me I'd eat more salad and even less meat. That doesn't mean I don't love to be treated to not cooking! I suspect the families' inability to load the dishwasher to my standards is just another way of getting out of a chore.


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