Tonight’s dish is Poulet rôti à l’ail; Chicken roasted with garlic, lots and lots of garlic!
As I brown off the bird in a heavy frying pan I have the kitchen door open, mainly for fresh air, but also to enjoy the lovely unseasonal weather.
“Hey, mon ami!” It’s our neighbour, Guillaume, standing looking over the courtyard wall. “Ça sent bon!” “That smells good!”
“J’ai quelque chose pour tu.” “I have something for you”
I move the chicken off the heat and walk out to greet him. “Ça va?”
“Oui, oui, ça va bien. Alors, pour toi!” He holds out his hand and proffers fresh walnuts, heavy with oil and smelling of the woods. I eagerly receive them from him.
“De près d’ici?” From near here?
“Oui, dans la forêt, près de la ville.” From the forest, close to the town.
I roll the nuts in my hand and inhale their earthy aroma, they smell wonderful…but it must be my turn to open the bar!
“Un bière?” Guillaume grins at the suggestion. Well, that seems to seal the deal then!
I knock the tops off two 1664’s and pass him one. We chink the bottles and smile at each other like a couple of guilty schoolboys. He has the look of a man who has spent most of his life outside, and often non to close to hot water. His hands are stained with nicotine and hard work, but his heart is honest and his smile as genuine as the sun.
“Tu aime topinambour?” He asks, holding up some Jerusalem artichokes.
“Oui, bien sûr, mais ils me donnent le gaz!” Yes, certainly, but they give me… well, you get the drift!
We laugh and talk of fishing, the woods and food.
Then I have to get back to my cooking, Guillaume understands that, after all he has his artichoke soup to make.
I nibble a couple of the walnuts whilst cooking, savouring their wonderful freshness and giving thanks for my French friend’s generosity and knowing that later we will both dine well on the fruits of this amazing country.
“Entendez-vous dans les campagnes”