Sunday, December 19, 2010

La Soupe de Noel

     Right now, stores around here are groaning with food. I had a stack of supermarket flyers all ready to scan and post--but they've gone missing or, more likely, I've recycled them and they're in the giant bin up on the road to Aigues Vives next to the bottle bin to which we've contributed more than our fair share in the past couple of days (annual party not excessive personal drinking).
    But those seems to me that, when I lived on the other side of the Atlantic, turkeys featured and maybe hams. Here, I'd say 80 percent show foie gras and if it's not that, it's oysters or smoked salmon or scallops or champagne or any other luxury food or drink you'd care to name. Even Aldi (a bargain supermarket) has--or did last Thursday--the following impulse items next to the check-out:
1) Cans of foie gras
2) Packaged brioche slices (to spread the foie gras on)
3) Half bottles of Sauternes.
     Christmas is very much less commercial here. Where the money goes is on food.
     I didn't know about La Soupe de Noel but I did pick up the requisite cheese and recipe a week ago. Unfortunately, due to social craziness, the soup (layers of baguette, layers of cheese) never got made but the cheese was delicious.

What a difference a day makes.

Less than twenty-four little hours separate these two shots.

Sunday afternoon

Monday morning.

Mirepoix on a wintry afternoon....

We drove into Mirepoix the weekend before last for its Christmas market. The day was sharp and cold as a diamond but I've rarely seen this medieval town look more beautiful. It wasn't too crowded, and the winter light was low enough to spotlight the carvings under the arcade. Anyway, mes amis, some photo ops with extended captions.

A boulangerie that believes when it comes to Christmas decorations, more is more. The climbing Santa figure is very popular around here. 
Different varieties of honey, from the mountains, from wild flower meadows, from the forest. Don't their amber and gold colours make your want to spoon them out on to freshly made hot buttered toast?

I love this butcher's shop in the corner of the square. See those rotisserie chickens behind the sign?

Kids around here watch these instead of television. 

This sign hangs outside a store catering to pampered chiens et chats.

More sheep...

   Yes, my life is about a gazillion percent more rustic than it was a couple of years ago--and I wouldn't change it for the world. So often we find ourselves saying: "isn't it great that we live here?" My chic city friends are probably crossing their eyes...
   Anyway, I promised you more sheep--and more sheep are what you're going to get. I wish I'd had the camera with me the other day when we drove the back road over the hill to Intermarché and, as we came to the crest, saw--silhouetted against the smoky cut-out shape of the Pyrenees--a shepherd with his dogs and about two hundred sheep dotted on the slope below him.
   These sheep (if I haven't lost you by now) I chanced on when I was walking beside the river the other day. It's a nice chuckly little river, our Touyre (Occitan for "torrent") and, on this particular day, the shepherd was herding his flock along the footpath that runs beside it, letting them scamper down the bank for a drink en route.

    The white horse? It lives at the end of our impasse. If I go out on the balcony upstairs, and look to the right, this is what I see. A few chickens are usually clucking around near his feet.