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Thursday, 4th January 2018
Legend has it that cassoulet, the classic dish of South-West France, was invented to fortify soldiers fighting off British invaders.
Cassoulet is a hearty peasant dish of white beans mixed with different types of meat according to the region where it is made.
According to popular legend the first cassoulet was made in Castelnaudary, in Occitanie, which was under seige from the British during the Hundred Years War. The story goes that the townspeople gathered together all the food that they could find and made a huge stew which gave the defenders the energy to win the battle and to save the town from occupation.
The original medieval Cassoulet was made from beans and a little bit of pork and poultry fat. The cassoulet of today has evolved to include duck confit, pork shoulder and sausage.
However, the cassoulet made in the South of France is a completely different dish to that made in the North.
Whichever bean is used, and whatever the meat mix I love this dish. A perfect winter meal with cabbage and maybe a baguette.
Friday, 22nd December 2017
Trying to get into the spirit of Christmas!
In a 3 days time Christmas will be over... And still I don't feel in the slightest bit Christmassy.
Last week it dawned on me that in 9 days it would be Christmas. Immediate problem, lack of presents. Amazon Prime is my saviour. The postman jokes that he is Père Noël.
The Christmas lights are up but no one remembers to turn them on. The Christmas tree remains a huge shadow in the corner of the room. I thought we would have guinea fowl on Christmas Eve, but all the supermarkets have sold out of guinea fowl. Sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to run on rails and to cook the traditional Christmas dinner, but no one in my family apart from me likes stuffing, turkey, Christmas pudding, mince pies, brandy or Christmas cake. So the question that arises every year, what to cook for Christmas lunch?
I think this complacency might have something to do with both Iona and Joe being in the middle of mock brevet (GCSE) exams and Iona taking her mock baccalaureate (A level) exams. Stress levels not festive humour are high in our house!
This afternoon I am determined to shift my brain into Christmas mode!, the Amazon boxes will be unpacked and presents will be wrapped whilst listening to Wham's, Last Christmas and Delia's Christmas will provide food inspiration, but first the car needs its M.O.T.
Monday, 18th December 2017
Paris to provide better disabled access
With Paris officially awarded the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the issue of better disabled access, not only to buildings but also to lifts and toilets, is more important than ever.
Although, Paris has made significant progress over the last 20 years it still lags behind London when it comes to disabled access.
One of the reasons for this could be that the French are more regulatory (surely not!), and they place too much importance on how the disabled access looks. For example, the French would prefer to maintain a conformity in the slope and if this is not possible or if it looks 'ugly' then they will propose a secondary access. In Britain this would be viewed as discriminatory and the slightly higher 'ugly' ramp slope would be approved.
In order to meet the 2024 deadline Paris will need to work creatively so all of the beautiful historical monuments can be enjoyed by everyone.
Monday, 11th December 2017
Driverless cars to be on the roads THIS Spring!
Renault is currently preparing for Europe’s first large scale test of robot self driving technology.
The test will initially see four eclectic Renault ZOE’s running on 10km of public roads on three routes in Rouen’s business centre.
Passengers will be able to ‘stop’ a car by using a smartphone app. There will be no designated pick up/ drop off points
The tests aim to deal with real life problems such as busy junctions, aggressive drivers and safe parking.
For legal reasons there will be a ‘driver’ in the cars but as soon as the law evolves, the driver’s seat will become empty. Bit of a scary thing to imagine, but I have absolutely no doubt that the ZOE robot car will be able to park much better than I do!
Renault aims for half of all production to be made up of electric or hybrid cars by 2022. Renault also plan to build 15 self-driving models.
I haven’t thought much about self drive cars, only that if I had one it would park much closer to the supermarket entrance. Thinking more, if self drive cars are the future, there will be no need to learn to drive. Will drivers licences become obsolete?
Tuesday 5th December 2017
China rejects French cheese
It appears that China seems to have got a taste for all things French.
Over the past few months I have noticed that the butter shelves are all looking a bit thin and on a couple of occassions there has been no butter at all!.
Apparently, the Chinese rather like French patisserie and are importing French butter to recreate their own viennoiserie, leaving the French almost butterless!
It is not only the odd croissant that the Chinese have got a bit of a craving for, French cheese is also pretty popular as well, but the chinese authorities appear not to have the same relaxed French view when it comes to bacteria.The Chinese authorities have banned certain French cheeses, including Camembert, Roquefort and Brie amid concerns over ‘undesirable bacteria’. Consequently, China is experiencing a shortage of French cheese.
I thought the bacterium in cheese was good for the gut, but the Chinese authorities don’t agree!
The European Commission is in talks with the Chinese to try and persuade them that in fact the ‘undesirable bacteria’ are ‘friendly bacteria’.
Thursday, November 30th, 2017
Baguettes change colour, to black!
These baguettes may not look very appetising, in fact they look burnt!, but they are selling very well in a Normandy boulangerie.
Boulanger, Benjamin Rose wanted to make his ‘baguette de tradition’, to which no chemical additives are allowed, stand out. So, he added vegetable carbon charcoal!.
Mr Rose believes that supermarket bread, although cheap has lost the flavour of traditional bread, so he needed a bread that catches the eye and that tastes really good. Most supermarket breads contain about 14 additives and there is a growing demand for less additives and tastier bread.
I am not so sure that these black baguettes will really catch on!, they have not arrived yet in Réminiac!
Bees cure asthma and migraine
A beekeeper says that bees can cure asthma and migrane and that asthmatics can find almost instant relief in Lot-et-Garonne if they sniff the air from his beehives.
Apitherapy ( an alternative medicine that uses honey bee products including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom) has been used since the early 1900’s and many asthmatics can find immediate relief from breathing in the air from beehives. The benefits last from days to several weeks.
Modern research has identified hormones released from bee larvae in the hive which inhibit the overexpression of genes causing asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and migrane.