If Terence Conran could sell French country style to the English in the 20th century, why shouldn't I sell English patisserie to the French in the 21st century?
If only it were that easy. I hadn't reckoned on French bureaucracy, weather and good old xenophobia. But hey, life on the traditional French markets is full of surprises so I thought I should share them with the wider world.
After 20 years living in the centre of uber style-conscious London, I shipped out to live in the rural bliss of west central France, leaving all semblance of chic and style behind me together with my manicured nails to live in muddy boots and ripped jeans to work on the 'renovation of our French country ruin'. Eventually finding a need for contact with humanity in whatever form, I came upon the idea of selling fairy cakes to the French. Only problem was; I didn't have a kitchen!
This blog will be a document to the success, or otherwise of my enterprise along with the tales, trials and emotional rollercoasters of life on the market in France. I hope you will enjoy.......

quintessentially English

quintessentially English
........but in France!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Return to Eden?

Firstly I must apologise for having been absent for so long - explanations to follow!
Over the summer season my girlfriends on the market deserted for sunnier and more profitable French costal towns, where they both have family homes, so things seemed pretty subdued without them while we all waited for the famous 'season' to start, and waited..... and waited..... and waited.....!

Our little spa town doesn't have much to offer if you don't need the water treatment in the summer, and so I decided to desert the market too for a spell in sunny London. No baking, no hauling giant parasols about and above all long lie-ins in the mornings!
My return to France was a sudden immersion into the chaos of the fruit & veg season in our little (by French standards) garden. Plums literally dripping from our trees, courgettes appearing from nowhere overnight, succulent but marrow sized, and lots and lots of tomatoes in various forms and sizes.

The first steps into the garden were traumatic as a month with no other care than the kind hosepipe work of our neighbours had of course led to a veritable jungle of weeds, but that first taste of a sweet cherry tomato, warmed by the sun and oozing juice gave us the incentive to tackle the growth and discover what goodies were hidden beneath!
Since that moment it has been non-stop; re-starting the cake stall being almost an afterthought as we tackled the making of every imaginable permutation of plum recipe we could find!

Once I had become an expert in plum jam, plum tart, plum cake, plum bread and above all a fantastic plum and ginger chutney, I was ready once again to take time for communication with the non-plum world! Then over the space of 48 hours flat, all the peaches decided to fall off our tree at once!!! Off we went again, trawling the internet for recipes, but resorting to time worn favorites including peaches preserved in brandy which will surely warm us up in the cold winter months ahead here!

The really nasty bit about peaches is the fact that they need to be skinned before cooking. My first year of peach cooking was marred by hours trying to peel the skins off with a sharp knife, until a kindly neighbour put her head round the door and told me the trick : cover the fruit in boiling water for a few minutes and then the skins literally slip off with a gentle caress of the peach. (quite a sensual thing when put like that isn't it?) The only drawback being brown stained fingernails for days afterwards from the juice, but hey, it's still better than the sharp knife approach!
So now back to the real world, the market stall and with the next post some long awaited gossip I hope.