Sunday, September 24, 2006

Full of beans


After two months away from the Lot, I had expected the garden to be frazzled. Instead, the combination of heat and unseasonably heavy rains has provided a paradise for weeds. Three-feet-high bushes are growing in the middle of the driveway. Some weeds are eight feet tall. This all shall pass.

Mushroom season is in full swing and I have already feasted on cèpes and girolles (chanterelles in Northern France and elsewhere in the world). A forgotten simple pleasure from the market is fresh white haricot beans. I asked several local women how long to cook them and was always told "over an hour", but clearly they were thinking of the dried beans. If one pods and boils the fresh beans for twenty minutes, they are at their best, ready to add texture to the flavours of your choice.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Occitan

Occitan regionThe Times reports that there is a movement to preserve and perhaps promote the Occitan language, which is far from dead in the South of France. If you are familiar with South-Western France, you will see from the map at left that Cahors is almost at the centre of the Occitan-speaking region. One rarely hears conversations in Occitan these days, but the vocabulary is inextricably jumbled up with standard French.