Remembering my first Bastille Day in France: 2004.
Ten days after the Americans wave the Red, White and Blue to
celebrate the 4th of July the French wave the Red, White and Blue to
celebrate the 14th….14 juillet as it’s known in France, Bastille Day to
the Brit’s and Americans.
The two holidays celebrate the same ideal in
much the same way: Parades by the government, picnics by the people.
Even our little hamlet got into
the act, although, it’s more of a 2-family celebration with
a few guests.
There were 2 older couples (80’s, 90’s), and their children who all come back for the fetes.
It was an all day affair: the main feast at around 2:00, followed by
clean-up for the women and boules for the men. (Things are still
very traditional here in rural France.)
Then the ladies go for a walk
and the men go to the cave for some wine tasting – not to imply
that the wine hasn’t been flowing freely all day…
Throughout the day
various teenagers and young, single, 20-something’s stop by, in between
their own parties, to have a bite and say hello. In the U.S. one walks
into a large gathering, shouts a general ‘Hey!’ and gives specific, but
still brief, greetings to close friends or family.
Here in France, the new arrival
greets each and every person, known or not, with the obligatory Vendeen
4 kisses – two on each cheek, alternating.
The same when they leave.
It was fascinating to watch. The kids come in, greet everyone, chat for
5 minutes, say goodbye, and the whole process takes 30 – 40 minutes!
the sun gets a bit lower in the sky and it starts to cool down,
the stronger stuff comes out to be sampled: a particular liqueur picked
up on a trip to Syria, some Eau de Vie the farmer made last
year, an herbal digestif made by Maman, Papa‘s
Just before sunset (and the fireworks), around 10:00, a
light supper was served with the leftovers from lunch and a few treats
saved especially for the late-evening snack.
When the food duties were
assigned I tried to talk the ladies into letting me do something
traditional for me but new for them – like American Potato Salad.
didn’t buy my persuasions. They would make their own traditional foods,
thank you very much, but (apparently) they thought they could trust me
with a tart…so I could bring a cherry tart.
I’ve never made a tart of
any kind (or a pie without a frozen pie crust to get me started) and I
wasn’t about to have my first attempt critiqued by the entire village.
We compromised on a fruit salad. They then dropped off a bag of apples,
bananas, and oranges.
“Oh ye of little faith” I thought, you are about
to be pleasantly surprised by the American who can’t bake:
Summer Fruit Salad for a picnic
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
melon, (cantaloupe, honeydew)
and, in this case (I had to use some
1/2 bottle Sauternes – not an
expensive one, but a decent one
Pick through the berries, removing stems, etc. Rinse and drain
well. Leave all berries whole. Cut the melon in half, remove seeds and
either scoop out with melon-baller (making balls), or slice flesh from
rind and cube. Peel oranges and slice fruit sections out of membranes.
Slice peaches and nectarines. Put all of the fruit into a large bowl
and pour sauternes over. 1/2 bottle should be enough – it needs to coat
all fruit or the peaches and nectarines will darken, you use more if
needed. Chill for a couple of hours. Slice bananas and gently stir in
just before serving. (I normally would not put in bananas, but the
ladies brought them, so…)
I serve this with the desserts, but, I
did refer to it as a salad, so it was served with the salads (we had a
proper 4-course picnic). It was a large, full bowl….and it was all
eaten! I was proud!
We are no longer in a cute little hamlet…. and no Bastille Day picnic this year, although we may head into town a bit later for ‘Repas dans la Rue’ – or dinner in the street. Followed, of course, by the fireworks.
Somethings are universal.
Like our love of salads….
Here’s one more for those who still have a bit of Romaine left in the garden:
Turkey, Barley, Zucchini and Mushroom Salad
10oz (300gr) turkey cutlets
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
1 courgette (zucchini)
4 tsp olive oil
2 tbs teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 cup chicken broth
lettuce for 2 large salads
Cook barley in chicken broth until tender.
Cut turkey into strips. Cut red onion into thick slices. Trim and slice mushrooms. Mince garlic. Cut zucchini into quarters the long way, then slice.
Heat 3 tsp oil in a large skillet. Add onion and mushroom and stir-fry until onion is just tender. Add garlic and zucchini and stir-fry until zucchini just starts to soften. Add 1 tbs teriyaki sauce and stir well to combine. Remove to a plate.
Add remaining 1 tsp oil and turkey to skillet. Stir-fry until turkey is cooked through, 4 – 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 tbs teriyaki sauce, stir to combine and remove from heat.
Prepare lettuce and put into large salad bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Add barley, vegetables and turkey, toss gently and serve.
2 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs sherry vinegar
2 tbs olive oilWhisk all ingredients well.
1/2 cup barley in stock, lettuce, savory, chives, thyme
Notice how I snuck the zucchini into the salad?
Happy Quatorze Juillet, tout le monde!