When I did the weekly shopping in the Vendée I knew I was living in France.
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.
We won't talk about 'Old El Paso', which has made a big hit in France – their taco and fajita kits are everywhere.
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.
Perhaps I've discovered how to travel the multiverse….
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?
9 thoughts on “Duck Breast with Olives; The English are Here!”
Oh I can relate to the toilet.
Very interesting about all the foreign invaders where you are:) odd too.
here in crete, we have an extremely limited variety of ‘foreign’ food, depsite the increasing number of economic migrants. for example, i cant get cadbury chocolate, and the only chinese style food available is the blue dragon label…
Oh I wish I could live in France right now! That recipe of yours looks so tasty. I am a big fan of duck!
I also saw your photo in the profile section for the first time. What a beasutiful woman you are, Katie!
It’s impossible to shop at LeClerc in Cahors and not run into hordes of English and often Germans.
We have run into them so many times we know where they are from before they speak. I saw pretty much the same thing at Carrefour, which is not my favorite place – way too pricey.
As for variety, LeClerc has it all.
We must have just missed you by a month, Katie.
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
French staples replaced with marmite? What the? Sounds crazy.
I heard someone refer to that particular part of a French supermarket as the ‘British Aisle’ the other day….that really tickled me!
Good blog, very enjoyable!
Tanna, I’m finding interesting how very different areas in France can be… I’ve led such a sheltered life!
Maria, ooooh, no Cadbury’s???? Do you have a good substitute?
Anh, what a lovely thing to say… I wish I could send you some duck!
Mimi, We do have a LeClerc about 30 minutes away, but, as is typical, they have things that Carrefour doesn’t and vice versa. My complaint about them in the Vendee was narrow aisles. The local one here is much nicer… And there is no Carrefour. One must learn new habits ;-))
Thanks, Sarah, I appreciate the kind words.
Jude, yeah, when I see Vegamite I’m leaving… (just kidding, I actually like the stuff)
Sarah, the British Aisle, I like that… and so true!
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