A dedicated Francophile since the age of 13, I've been living in South West France since 2005. With fellow food-friend, Judi Chadaway who's based in London, we're exploring the 'Entente Culinaire' between Britain and France. Every week we post a new recipe from alternate sides of The Channel.
When I first met Philippe, one of the first laughs he had at my expense was expounding on the terrible food that English people eat: everything was covered in a terrible brown floury sauce; we ate mountains of greasy ‘feesh and chips’; and of course, there was the famous ‘Engleesh triffle’ – a ghastly concoction of green jelly and solid custard. I quizzed him – had he actually been to England and eaten any of the food? His answer was “No”, but he’d heard all about it from his friends.
The reputation of English food in France is both legendary and apocryphal. I have done my best in the thirteen years that I’ve lived here to disabuse my French friends of some of their prejudices – but Philippe has remained sceptical. When I invited him and his wife Nathalie to lunch this weekend, he threw the gauntlet down. “I’ll only come if you make a trifle,” he said. The challenge was accepted. Continue reading “An Entente Culinaire – a mere trifle at stake!”→
There’s something about the end of one of ‘those evenings’. You shouldn’t have gone out, you didn’t mean to go out – certainly not with Him – you’ve drunk far too much and, of course, he’s now back here in your flat saying he’s hungry…
Panic ensues. There’s nothing in the fridge of an edible nature (you’ve been at work all day). There’s plenty to drink, yes, including a bottle of champagne – but nothing that can be turned into a meal. The cheese has gone mouldy and even the bread is stale. Continue reading “Night-time tales à la Puttanesca”→
This is in praise of the humble chard – a vegetable that I never tasted until I was in my early twenties. Despite my mother growing vegetables and always keeping an eye on the costs, for some reason, chard never turned up on our plates. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed when I first tasted this dark, green leaf in a meal cooked in Andalucía by my formidable future mother-in-law. Continue reading “An Ode to Chard”→
Sardines (the canned variety) are a bit like Marmite – you either like them or you don’t. My father and his mother were fans and my mother and her mother weren’t. Tea with Granny ‘Kenzie (a meal that took place in the early evening), often involved sardines on toast, mashed up with butter and put under the gas grill. My mother’s mother, Granny Hughes, didn’t like the oily, fishy smell – her house smelt of bleach, Vim cleaning powder, and furniture polish – but the strong sardine odour clearly didn’t bother Granny ‘Kenzie. I suspect the fact that sardines were, and still are, so cheap, was another reason Granny ‘Kenzie liked them. Continue reading “Canned Sardines – A Family Affair”→
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There’s something about being ill that completely changes your appetite, both in terms of quantity and desire. Today was the first time in four weeks that I ate a fresh green salad – normally a daily habit of mine. But then I’ve been ill with bronchitis and an awful laryngitis and, as a result, my appetite has become that of a child. I’ve been eating nursery food. Continue reading “A Simple Soup for Sore Throats”→
After many years of travelling – Germany, Kenya, Suffolk, New Zealand, Kent – we finally settled in Buckinghamshire in 1968 when my parents bought an old ramshackle farmhouse, the first ever house they had ever owned.
Looking back, I realise we only just scraped by on my father’s teaching salary whilst my mother juggled raising the three of us, working part-time as a school secretary, growing most of our vegetables and fruit, and making all our clothes. But I never had the impression that we lacked for anything. Continue reading “Sweet Paprika and Sweet Memories – Family Recipes”→
My mother was very parsimonious when it came to cooking with eggs. Clearly, her wartime childhood had affected her. The WWII ration allowance was one fresh egg per week, supplemented with dried egg powder from the USA – which she hated. But old habits die hard; even in her eighties, she would use only one egg to make herself an omelette. If I had ever had the chance to bake her this traditional Polish babka cake for Easter, which uses twelve egg yolks, she would have had a veritable heart attack! Continue reading “Easter and an Extravaganza of Eggs”→