Here, I'm not so sure.
In the Vendée there was a small 'International Foods' section where I could find things like peanut butter, soy sauce, Arborio rice, Spanish olives, etc.; things one would, or at least could, consider staples.
Here, in the Lot et Garonne, the variety is staggering.
The things I have a hard time finding are some of the traditional French staples I've come to rely on. They've been pushed out to make room for Marmite, Branston Pickle and Typhoo Tea.
Not to mention Heinz being everywhere… and Spaghettio's?!?!?
On the other hand, I can now find oatmeal….
And a good selection of both whisky and whiskey (Ha! you thought I didn't know!) Not bad for the local supermarket, eh?
In the Vendée, when someone overheard someone else speak English it was an occasion: introductions were made, questions asked, notes compared.
Here, English is everywhere.
I called a French company to ask about stoves (yes, I'm still looking for stoves – wood-burning heating stoves), and, after a few minutes of bad French, I realized the guy was from Liverpool.
The guy who rents the backhoes is from Manchester.
The local handyman is from London.
For the record, we are not looking for English-speaking trades people.
Why would we? This is France. Strangely enough, we expect these people to be French.
In the Vendée they all were.
Here, I'm no longer always certain I'm actually in France.
Thankfully, one item I'm confident we will always be able to find is duck breast. As we live in the land of foie gras and duck confit (which is often just the legs) there are rather a lot of breasts around. This time of year we usually get them on special, '3 for 10 euro'. We prefer it to the local steak (beef) and eat it medium rare.
It has about 1/3 inch of fat on one side which, ahem, shall we say causes a bit of a mess. It's not something I normally like to cook indoors, at least not in my own kitchen….
But, if you could see Vlad's House you would understand why I don't mind making it here, (Sorry, Vlad).
A good duck breast really needs nothing more than a quick sear and a slice. As I can never leave 'well enough alone' to quote my mother…..
Pan-Fried Duck Breast with Green Olive Sauce
1 duck breast
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup green olives
an old shirt
Crosshatch the fat on the duck breast. Heat a large skillet until sizzling. Put on the old shirt. Place the duck, fat side down, in the skillet and step back a bit. Let fry until about half of the fat has melted, 2 – 3 minutes. Turn the duck and fry another 2 – 3 minutes. If the fat is not properly melted and browned turn fat side down for another minute. Remove. Drain fat from skillet and return to low heat. Add white wine and olives, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
Slice the duck. If done to your taste, put on a platter, pour the sauce over and serve.
If too rare, put the slices back in the pan for 10 – 20 seconds per side.
Since you did all the work of cooking the duck, let someone else do the clean-up.
Quick house update: Mon mari has put the bathroom temporarily on hold. (I really want that toilet…. installed and working. REALLY!).
He seems to have gotten this bizarre idea in his head that he should figure out the level of all the floors before he installs the the first one, in the bathroom. Something about not having each room slightly different… stepping up and down, tripping, and so on. I mean, just because there's a 6" (15cm) difference between one corner and another he thinks he has to fix it….
Next thing you know he'll want the ceilings on the same plane, too!
Where is his sense of whimsy…..
More important… Where is my toilet?