Feb 18 2005

Letter From Brittany, February 2005


Dear Sally,

That is a long time I did not come back to you but I have been computer less for a long time!

The weather had been terrible in Brittany since before Christmas. Huge storms and now snow and blizzard and each time we have a storm we have power cuts and the computer hate it! You see I think, sometime, that is foolish to try to mix the old world and the modernity and at the moment "Les Eglantines" and the computer are fighting each other very hard!

Christmas and New Year over here were very quiet. This year the family was not with us and we had a nice time between us two and our loved house. Our menu had been an elegant one with candles, big fire in our 3 metres high fireplace. I tell you what it is and I will give you the receipts at the end of my letter.

We started with a fresh foi gras, then steamed scallops on seaweed as a second course, sweetbreads in white truffle sauce as a third course and pomelos pudding for the desert. It was delicious and much easier to make for two than for ten!

I found a new way to make the fresh foie gras, I steamed it. It is a less aggressive way to cook it and you cannot miss it.

For Christmas it is the full season for scallops. In France we have a season for scallops, the fishermen are allowed to catch them between October and April except in January for a matter of prices on the market, if I understood what they explain to me, it is to avoid the fall of the market price?

Michael discovered the sweetbreads. In France it is one of the most expensive dishes and very delicate to cook and he loved it!

On the second of January we have a Catholic custom for the arrival of "Les rois mages". Les Rois Mages are three kings coming from Orient who followed a star to Bethlehem, were Jesus was born, to adore him and give their presents. Their names are Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar. For that occasion all over France people are buying a "Galette des Rois" which is puff pastry stuff with almond past and inside is hidden a small figure in china called a "féve". We are inviting or the family or friend to share it and with the galette are two paper crowns, the one who find the féve is the king and has to choose his queen. It is funny, some are swallowing the féve because they are shy and they do not want to choose a queen or a king, some others are choosing the piece where they think the féve is but every body enjoy it anyway. That day is called Epiphany. We had a party that day with Michael, myself and two old ladies of our neighbourhood, indeed Michael ended as the king! It was joyful and full of laugh.


On the Saturday following the first of the year, traditionally the Maire of the village invite all his citizen for an aperitif at the town hall and wish them a happy new year it is a very important event in the village, everybody is coming and for one hour or two it is, speeches, drinks and kisses to everybody for the wishes! From the children to the oldest everybody is sharing the joy to be together. We went there as usual and met a lot of English, retiring in the village.

My garden at the moment is sleeping, between the snow and the cold nothing is happening.

I am going, now the house and surroundings are finished, to organise my vegetable garden for the spring.

I bought a quince tree because now I have grand children I want to make for them quince past for the 4 o’clock tea.

I have too, a big plan for this year. I am going to buy hives, we have so many flowers and wild plants over here and the honey is one of the specialities of our region. I met in the village a man who had a big knowledge of plants and he is collecting butterflies. That man is fantastic he planted in his garden a lot of different varieties of plants, which are, attracted species of butterflies we were not seeing anymore in our area since a very long time! I am going to see him in March when I will do my flower and vegetable garden and I will give you more details then.

But it is smelling spring, Achile, the cat is mewing to the moon every nights since some times!!!!!!!!!


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