Or, in our case, a chicken. With certain of our supplies running low, B and I feel that today is the day we really must buckle down and figure out how to get to Bedarieux so we can stock up on a few things.
10am – Wake up! Why can’t I wake early here? Breakfast, facebook, map-checking. B very carefully traces out our walking route on a piece of paper, with all the side-trails marked so that we won’t go astray. Or at least not for very long. We empty our backpacks, the better to pack them with groceries, fill a bottle of water, and….
2pm – We’re off!
We soon lose track of where we are on the map, but we seem to be on the right road. As a rule of thumb, when faced with a fork in the road, we choose the better-paved path. We figure if it heads anywhere that people would want to get to regularly (like the only neighboring town with a train station and a Super-U), it will be pretty well taken care of. For the most part this works out, until we come to one fork where the paths seem equally paved.
We choose the right-hand path. Utterly breathtaking, beautiful walk.
Until we run into the angry dog at the end of it. Who turns out to be very big. And not chained.
We keep our cool and don’t run, but nice and slowly, making all sorts of soothing French sounds (“D’accord, d’accord, nous allons, mon ami….d’accord, ca va…..”) we back away. The dog (like all dogs here it seems) is well-trained, and leaves us alone as soon as he’s seen us 10 meters back along his driveway, which we had mistaken for our path. Very soon we are on the right road again.
Our host, Thomas, said that the walk was a little more than an hour. I did not time it, but it seemed longer to me – but that, perhaps, is because so much of it was uphill. B and I have already noticed that we take twice as long to walk an incline as a decline.
We arrive in Bedarieux and come across a pharmacie. I want to go in just to see what a French pharmacie looks like. While we are in there, we remember that we both need dental floss, and I need scissors. Since we are conserving cash after our debacle trying to use our Mastercard in Paris, we ask them if they can accept a credit card without a microchip. The lady behind the counter looks confused, but the young man says yes, yes, and pulls a neglected little card reader off of a back shelf from behind some stuff – this machine has obviously not been touched in a while. In fact, it has apparently been so long since anyone tried to use a non-chip card in this pharmacie that everyone in the store comes to see how it’s done. It’s quite a production. And it doesn’t work. We are just explaining that it’s fine, we have a chip-card too (it’s a pre-paid debit, so we’re conserving it with the cash), when someone has an epiphany and switches the phone line so that the card reader is online. Voila! It works! Everyone looks very pleased with themselves for having figured out this antique bit of technology, and they wave us merrily on our way.
We pass a local artisan bakery/produce shop and stop in, hoping that they will have everything we need, and perhaps we won’t even need to go to Super-U. They have everything except milk, which we need to make crepes. So we head to Super-U, but decide we will come back here to buy our bread products.
Super-U is the same. We forget to check our bags at the front and are turned around by the manager, but other than that, a smooth trip. After eating so much good French cooking for so many days, we are feeling somewhat inspired and decide to roast a chicken with vegetables in addition to making crepes (on different nights of course), and we leave laden with many good things. Especially butter.
Upon returning to the artisinal bakery, we find they are having a promotion – 5 croissants + 5 chocolate croissants for only 5 euros! We load up 🙂
Fully laden with provisions, we are just coming to the (very steep) initial ascent of our return trip when a car pulls up next to us, and a friendly and non-threatening lady asks us if we’d like a ride. We tell her we are going to Villemagne, and she says yes, of course, she’ll take us part way. She has her probably jr. high-aged daughter with her, who is looking at us shyly as we crawl into the back. The daughter is obviously studying English in school because every time B and I exchange a few words, she turns her head with a sharp listening kind of look. When her mother urges her to speak to us, however, she declines and says she can’t. Mom and daughter take us well over halfway back before we come to their house and they let us off. We thank them profusely and head the easy 15 minutes back into town.
We are feeling so inspired by the good will that we decide to jump right into cooking and dine in for the night. Here’s what we had:
1 whole chicken.
2 large potatoes
3 medium carrots
1 medium zucchini
3 French onions (the little white ones with green stalks)
“Herbes du Provence” – presumably rosemary, thyme, and some others.
salt and pepper (which I actually completely forgot, but I would add them in if I did it again – it turned out okay anyway)
Sautee roughly chopped carrots and potatoes in garlic and bacon fat (we had leftover from breakfast) and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 F. While they are roasting, sautee the onions (whole) and the zucchini (chopped) very briefly to loosen flavor. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Mash several tablespoons of butter together with the herbs and smear it all over the chicken – and try to mash some up under the skin as well. This will require some serious hand-washing.
Take the potatoes and carrots out, move them to the side of the baking dish and place the chicken in the middle. Sprinkle the onions and zucchini on top of the veggie mixture, cover the pan with foil, and return the whole pan to the oven, still at 400F. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and cook for another 50 minutes, or until chicken is done.
Serve with white wine and good bread if you have it 🙂