Friday, December 16, 2005

Writer's snowblock

I'm wondering how I will get out of my enclave if it snows here. Should I buy in stocks of cooking salt, I wonder. Maybe I should just accept defeat and brew up some mulled wine.

Talking of which, over 5 litres of said mulled wine were demolished at a little party I had for the neighbourhood the other day where 6 'houses' attended with kids. Being new here, I felt it would be a good idea to get to know the other residents so organised an 'aperitif' ie. drinkies and nibbles. I spent the day on it, tidying, putting up Christmas decorations and preparing the nibbles - lots of stuffed things: tomatoes, mushrooms, celery; and things on sticks such as cheese and apple, and ham and grape. Also did some bacon/prune devils on horseback and roasted goat's cheese on bread.

Most of it went! The atmosphere got merrier as the mulled wine went down, and it was a great success, I'd say. Apparently in the summer, they organise an outdoor party where everyone brings something to eat - a pot luck - and set up tables at the bottom of the hill. Who said the French were anti-social?

Carrying on the social theme, we had our work Christmas lunch this week. We went to a restaurant, 19 of us, and had a delicious lunch in a quaint little place rustically decorated with a bakelite telephone hanging from one of the beams and a huge fireplace with ancient heating system incorporated. It involved pipes of water behind the fire which got heated up and sent hot water through pipes through the rest of the place. Not being used as such now, of course, but basically still in place.

The atmosphere was merry there too as pichet after pichet descended (but not toooo much!) and we enjoyed samosas of goats cheese and honey on salad, followed by stewed lamb and parsnips (PARSNIPS!! in France???!!!) and then I had a chocolate 'soup' flavoured with lavender. All for 16Eur paid for by the lab. There is nothing pleasanter than eating something you have neither prepared nor paid for, or rather, eating that which you have neither prepared nor paid for adds a delicious piquance to the meal.

Even so, I have been preparing some more unusual dishes for the boys recently, with varying degrees of success. The latest was a baked, stuffed courge (squash) which I had to sweeten last night with some chips for my eldest, from the brand new electric chip pan I bought on Wednesday for a song. The squash was delicious, stuffed with sausagemeat, rice, onion, chorizo, tomato, garlic and various bits and bobs. It can't have cost more than 5 Eur, either and served 8 meals! Economical or what?!

What mother isn't confronted with sullen sulks at some creative, healthy, delicious dish she serves up with love for her little darlings, eh? Ah, the joys of motherhood.

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