Tuesday, 3 July 2018
I have lived and breathed the French language for a very long time. Yet, every once in a while, a word comes my way that requires a bit of extra thought. I don't mean the words that are new to me but that I understand because of their context, or words that I have forgotten and that I can jiggle to the surface. I mean words that I know, but that don't seem to make sense in context. Writing about how to make a baguette last blog led me down several cooking related paths including to the salt farms of Brittany and the following:
La Fleur de Sel, Le Guérandais, est délicatement cueillie, selon une méthode traditionnelle millénaire, à la surface de l'eau des oeillets par les paludiers de Guérande.
But, un oeillet is a carnation (or an eyelet). Of course, a carnation is a flower and the fine salt (La Fleur de Sel) that is being collected is so-called because of the flower-like patterns of the crystals that form in the salt crust as the seawater evaporates. But, this is somewhat of a false path.*
In fact, in the salt harvesting process, sea water passes through a succession of ponds and it is the final set of ponds that are known as the 'œillets'. Is this more related to the winding related to eyelets?
An interview with chef, Jamie Oliver, in which he talked about his mentor, a lady named Rose, came up in conversation. She was strong, kind, clever, someone who, according to Jamie, favoured simplicity and taught him to focus always on what he could do better. A 'salt of the earth' sort of person.
And then, absent-mindedly, I picked up a cook book that I have had on my coffee table for a very long time, but have probably never done anything more than flick through distractedly. I like the idea of cooking. I love the idea of being a good cook. But, sadly that is where the passion seems to start and stop. This time, though, I read the About section of the cookbook; a human story, which is of far more interest to me, and learnt that the writer/chef Patricia Wells and her husband's
"...love of France grew...Almost before we'd unpacked our bags in Provence, we had more French friends than we had made in all our time in Paris. Within a year, we could no longer even remember life before Provence. For us, it symbolised all the essential elements of happiness we sought in life - friends, family, food, and feasts."
Now, this was something that I could really relate to, and took me on a bigger wander around her book...which led to the Fleur de Sel.
Strangely enough, it was not just me baking last weekend, My FB posts attracted return comments from both Annette at A French Collection and Mardi from eat.live.travel.write who is about to publish a...cookbook.
*as far as I can tell - please do let me know if there is indeed a connection.