Bonjour, de France!

{le jardin}

The French are amazing me. Bonjour, de Chaligny, France! (I apologize for the quality of the picture; I won’t be able to upload any pictures off the Nikkon until we’re back in the States, so the iPod will have to do for now.) Chaligny (population, 3,000) lies near the Eastern coast of France, close to the boarder of Luxembourg. Most of the streets are narrow, the houses dating back to the late 1700s. To get here, Noah and I had to take a TGV train from Paris into Lorraine (yes, like the quiche), and then drive 40 minutes into the town of Chaligny. It was a whole day’s journey.

But we made it! I can’t help but feel a teeny bit like Julia Child. Although I lack the culinary goddess’s height and quirky personality, I’m reveling in the French cuisine and trying my darnednest (but for the most part, failing) to speak a language that I haven’t spoken since my one semester at NYU over two years ago. To add to my French love affair, one of our hosts just happens to be the most amazing chef in all of France (I’m sure of it), so we’ve been eating extremely well. The first night was a vegetable ratatouille, the second night was une fête (a party) which included 4 courses, 6 bottles of wine and champagne, espresso and Baileys, and last night was a French pasta called spaetzle. Speatzle is a pasta miracle, unlike anything we have in the states. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen, in case you’re interested. OH and the cheese. Roquefort, comté, Saint Agur just to name a few of the pre-dessert staples of our French meals.

One of the best things is rummaging through our host’s ancient French cookbooks. My favorite so far is Le Grand Livre de Recettes, which has entire chapters devoted to “Le Vin a Table” (wine pairings and pourings), “Pliages de Serviette” (decorative napkin folding), and “Les Decors” (cooking decorations). How French!

And les jardins. Our hosts have a beautiful, modest garden at the back of their house. Aside from the plethora of gorgeous and fragrant rose bushes, they have spinach, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, strawberries (which are ripe enough to eat off the vine!), chard, peppers, cucumbers, etc. Basically the whole staple vegetable gamut. Even more impressive, our hosts are the not exception. Almost every house that we’ve seen that has a yard has a section devoted to a substantial vegetable plot. Backyard farming is not a phenomenon here, as it is in the states, it’s just the French way.

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