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Honeymoon Day 13: Pique-Nique!

Our one big goal today was to take a picnic over to Pont du Diable (“Devil’s Bridge”)and lounge for several hours reading and snacking and sketching. It was a great success.

Here’s what we ate:

After our salami/fig discovery yesterday, I had a grand time mixing sweet/savory combinations – salami/sheepcheese/fig, raspberry/brie, pear/salami, etc. YUM!

And here’s what we saw:

Pont du Diable. We’ve gone across it twice already, but this is our first view from below.

I am congenitally unable to resist wading barefoot across a rocky stream. I stripped my socks and shoes and found…..

…This abandoned building!

Touch-me-nots! I was so thrilled to come across these friends from my childhood, all the way over the big blue Atlantic! A little different in color, but in season and ready for popping πŸ™‚

There are about 30 minnows/tadpoles in this shot. Can you spot any of them?

He’s a handsome feller πŸ™‚

This is what I accomplished:

1. Inventing the Brie-Fig sandwich. Even better, in my opinion, than the Salami-Fig sandwich, because the sweetness of the fig cuts the pungency of the brie, but the brie flavor is strong enough to not be overpowered by the sweetness. Perfect balance. Yin and yang. Ben disagreed, but that’s just because he doesn’t like cheese. I was so enraptured I forgot to take a picture.

2. I took a nearly 3-hour nap.

3. I did this:

And this is the obligatory dog encounter:

I was sketching and B was reading, when this black labrador (or something very like a big black lab) comes bounding down the path, wearing a collar but no leash, and leaps into the water just behind us. No barking, no fuss, takes barely any notice of us at all. After his dip, he bounds right back up the path again. A few minutes later, he returns, this time towing his humans behind him, and older couple clearly out for a little fishing. They settle a ways downstream from us, out of sight, but doggy visits us once more to urinate nearby before the evening is out.

You can just see the dog’s head above water. B managed to snap this before he bounded away again.

And then we went home to more lamb stew with couscous. On the way back, we took a couple more shots:

Walking up the Pont du Diable – the paving is 13th century and extremely uneven. Wicked.

Home sweet home.

I would love to end here, because the picture is perfect, but I feel that two other things happened tonight which really do deserve a post-script:

1. We discovered a little bar on the outside of town where you can buy wine for 2.50 Euros. Not good wine, mind you, but totally drinkable. In fact, the more you drink, the better it tastes…..

2. I watched Star Wars all the way through for the first time in my adult life. I can cross that off of Major Gaps in My Pop Culture Education. And, yes, I enjoyed it quite a bit, thank you.

Bonne Nuit!

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French Honeymoon Day 12: Angry Dogs II, or In Which I Invent the Salami and Fig Sandwich.

After two days of laziness, we are getting a little tired of our own company (what’s the point of being on honeymoon if the only new thing to talk about happened on facebook?), so we decide to take another epic walk. Or at least a new walk.

We don’t feel like doing a whole lot of internet research on trails and routes, so we decide on something easy – we walk to Lamalou les Bains. The name literally means “Lamalou Baths.” It’s about as far as Bedarieux, but in the other direction, and easily reachable by major roadway. Both B and I are still wincing just a little from our bike ride the other day, so we decide to walk it. We pack salami, bread, figs, peaches, croissants, and chocolate, and head on our way.

We found a cactus.

A giant cactus, that is.

Traveler’s Note: To get to Lamalou from Villemagne, walk along the D922 to Herepian, but when you get to D908, turn right instead of left. As with the road to Bedarieux, the D908 is much busier than the D922, so be alert. Take the D908 to the D22 and turn right again (it’s a traffic circle – clearly marked “Lamalou les Bains.”). D22 goes right up through the middle of Lamalou. There are a couple of back roads that should get you there as well, but we missed the turn-off for those, and so followed the D908 all the way to D22.

The road was very level, but we were still tired by the time we arrived, so we stopped pretty immediately and had some of our lunch.

This was in our neck of the park where we stopped for lunch. Check out the mosaic work.

It is at this point that I invent the Salami-Fig Sandwich. Utterly delicious. The sweet and the salty perfectly complement each other. I make B a believer too.

While we are eating, random kinda-sleazy guy walks up to us and offers to sell us opened vodka and whiskey from his pouch. His breath indicates that he’s already partaken himself. We decline. He walks back up to us a few minutes later and offers to sell us some snacks instead. We decline again, and it’s at this point that he figures out that we don’t really speak fluent French, we’re just smiling and nodding and shaking our heads no-thanks. (One thing I’ve learned this trip – communication really is mostly non-verbal).

Finally, sated on smoked pig and ripe figs, we start walking through Lamalou. I’ve done zero reading or research on Lamalou, but clearly, it has a history of being a medical/health resort kind of town. It’s teeny-tiny, but boasts 3 hotels, multiple clinics, multiple restaurants, 3 souvenir shops, a thermal spa, and lots and lots of elderly and limited-mobility people. There is a large tourism office, with a very friendly and helpful desk lady.

After walking the length of the town, we’ve seen everything we want to see – but lo! In exploring our last side street, we come across a familiar sight!

Ok, this is the same pic from the Boussagues walk, but it was the same blaze, just on a wall instead of a tree.

We follow it out of town and realize that we could take the GR7 back to Pont du Diable from here instead of taking the main roads. We are not entirely sure of our direction, so we return to Tourism Office Lady, who hands us a new map of all the local trails (hurrah!) and confirms that if we follow the GR7 out of town in that direction, it will indeed return us to Pont du Diable, which is really only about a 15-minute walk from home base. She also very helpfully explains the different blaze meanings, which we had sort of intuited from walking the trail, but she made them much clearer:

“Not this way.”

“Turn right.”

“Not this way, turn left instead.”

We decide to be adventurous and take the scenic route home. We stop in the bodega for some more water and an extra snack or two, just in case this takes longer than we anticipate. And we’re off!

The scenery is really much better than if we’d gone back by the main route.

Of course, with the GR7 comes more angry dogs. Many more angry dogs. Most of them tied or behind fences, but not all of them. One fella followed us right up a whole hillside and into the next town. Fortunately, he was both little and not very angry, so we didn’t feel extremely threatened. We considered feeding him our last little bit of salami, but then we might never have gotten rid of him……

B hadn’t yet figured out that he was being followed when he stopped to take this pic. I kept turning around to tell him – “You’ve got a dog on your tail.” “What?” “You’ve got a dog following you.” “What?” “There is a dog following you up the stairs.” “What about the stairs?” He was at the top of the hill before he saw him.

This was the most interesting dog tale of the evening:

See the big dog in the picture above? He doesn’t look that big in the picture, but he easily came up to my rib cage.Β  B saw him first (I’d been turned around talking to him when the dog came around the house), and we both considered our options. There really wasn’t another way around – this was THE path out of town and in the right direction, so we approached as slowly as possible. Then a second dog showed up –Β  a tiny, fluffy white yapper, who got so excited when he saw us that he set the big dog off and they both came bounding our way. We stood our ground (mostly – I think we each took an involuntary step back), and………they sniffed our hands and then started wrestling:

Or flirting?

We heaved a great sigh of relief and went on our way.

With the light fading fast, we stopped at this bus stop to see how close we were to home.

We *just* made it πŸ™‚ This was taken right outside Villemagne.

After all that walking, we were both in the mood to have dinner and cleanup taken care of for us, so we went to Villemagnaise again – and again, we were not disappointed! B got the salmon from the 12 Euro menu, but I decided to try something a la carte that I couldn’t identify. It was listed under the “Poissons” (Fish) section, but I had no idea what it was. It turned out to be some kind of brilliant fish loaf fried up in what we suspect was an intestine, and it was groan-worthy delicious.

The fish loaf is the big sausage-y looking thing at 2 o’clock. The thing that looks like a piece of steak at 7 o’clock is actually eggplant.

We also tried a Kir Royale on the advice of a friend. It’s made with champagne and fruit syrup:

In fact, we tried two – one with Cassis syrup (black currant?), and one with Frambroise (raspberry). Both delicious.

So was the raspberry tart!

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French Honeymoon Day 10: Lazy Day Reflections

After our rigorous hike on Day 8 and our biking adventure yesterday (both B and I are sore, though in different places), we are taking another lazy day. Besides being mutually sore, B has acquired to date: 2 lumps on his head from hitting the stone arch in the living room, a scrape on his elbow from the rough wall finish, a twisted ankle from our hike to Boussagues (he twisted it almost within sight of home), and a bloody knee, from an awkward bike dismount 200 m from our front door (so close!). The old man needs a rest πŸ˜‰

Finished the rest of the roast chicken for lunch, snacked all day (Nutella!), and now waiting for our lamb stew to cook. Since we didn’t do anything notable today (except I spent 5 hours uploading photos into my honeymoon blog posts), here are some random reflections on marriage, honeymooning, and Villemagne.

Marriage:

I love having a husband. I realize that I am only 14 days married on the date of this writing (Happy 2-Week Anniversary B!), but already I have noticed that husbands are excellent for the following reasons:

1. Snuggling is no longer confined to a singular “date night.”

2. A husband can fetch things for you (like a blanket, or a cup of tea).

3. Husbands are very useful for watching your luggage while you go use the facilities.

4. Husbands have many more opportunities than boyfriends for sneaking up on you and kissing you.

5. Dividing responsibilities is extremely efficient. This was true when we traveled as boyfriend and girlfriend, but somehow it is even more true as husband and wife.

6. Some jokes age gracefully over the course of a day and are ten times more pungent when you’re giggling over them (again) at night snuggling under the blankets.

7. The Husband Full-Body Pillow is unmatched for comfort, warmth, and endorphins.

Honeymooning:

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

Paradise must be like this. At least sometimes.

Also, when I have absolutely nothing else to do, and when I am surrounded by fresh, delicious ingredients, and heavenly cooking, and wine, and when a trip to the grocery store can give an adventurous structure to an otherwise languorous day, then (sometimes)…… I actually enjoy cooking.

Villemagne:

Here the air has a dewy, faintly honeyed tea kind of smell in the morning, and a warm, sunny, herbal smell in the evening. (Especially the rosemary and lavender, although there are plenty of herbal-ly smells that we haven’t identified yet.) Just as in New York your nose is sometimes graced with a delicate whiff of stale urine, so in Villemagne, you are often greeted with a waft of wildflower.

I really love cooking with cast-iron skillets. I will have to invest in some.

I love (LOVE!) the church bell ringing the hour. Somehow it always makes me feel like I’m in the Sound of Music. I realize that that took place in Austria, not Southern France, but still.

Laundry takes much longer here – the delicate cycle in the washer took an hour and fifteen minutes. All the more time to laze around with one’s husband…..

I would have loved some measuring cups and other baking essentials, but otherwise, the kitchen is well-equipped. We have succeeded so far with roast chicken and vegetables, crepes, and hopefully in about half an hour, lamb stew.

Biking is much faster and more efficient than walking, but it makes you sore in more unexpected places.

The Villemagnais is a great French family restaurant. If you come, I highly recommend checking it out. Friendly, timely, reasonably priced, and not as intimidating as the Auberge L’Abbaye.

That’s all I got for today. Oh, the lamb stew: way too complicated a recipe. I’m too lazy to re-post it here, but the link we used was:

http://americanfood.about.com/od/classicchowdersandstews/r/lambstw.htm

Now for some snuggle time with my (giggle) husband…..

Post Script: The lamb stew turned out just fine….

Now I’m salivating just looking at this, two weeks later…..

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French Honeymoon Day 9: Bikes, A Beefy Love Affair, and Drunken Ballet.

There was quite a bit of lazing around today, especially to rest B’s ankle from a minor mishap yesterday. Finally, around 4pm, we managed to set out to accomplish our one great task for the day – grocery shopping!
B and I have discovered that the amount of groceries we can carry on our backs will sustain us for a few days, but not a whole week. After all the cooking and creping and snacking and salami sandwiches, we were in need of some additional provisions. We decided to head back to the Super-U in Bedarieux, but by bike this time!

There are three bikes in the basement/laundry room of our charming house in Villemagne. All three had flat tires, and there is only one helmet, but we found the tire pump and B had us ready to go in no time. The helmet fit him better (and really, I’m more accustomed to cycling anyway), so we got it fitted and set off!

Set off in circles, that is. Neither B nor I has been on a bike in some time, so we had a leisurely meander around the town square feeling our balance – and testing our brakes! – before setting off for serious.

Dear reader, I wish I had pictures for you!! Unfortunately, it is tremendously difficult to snap pictures while simultaneously balancing and steering and staying aware of traffic, so I can only tell you that the ride was lovely and charming and completely worth the trouble of pumping the tires. Also much faster than walking over the small mountain between Villemagne and Bedarieux, and while there are no bike lanes, we found the vast majority of drivers to be exceedingly polite and generous in sharing the shoulder.

We returned laden with all we shall need for a lamb stew, but too tired to attempt one this evening, and so we strolled again to our favorite village haunt, the Villemagnaise, where we interrupted our favorite restauranteur family in the middle of their supper. They were very gracious and got us started soon enough on our own victuals. After having tasted everything on the 12 euro prix fixe menu, I decided to order a la carte, and helped myself to “PavΓ© de Beouf” with mushrooms.

There is a reason why I style myself a “reluctant” vegetarian.” (The vegetarian part of which I utterly abandoned for this trip). This was my plate:

Beef, mushrooms, potatoes frites.

This was my reaction to it:

I haven’t had a steak in…….I don’t remember. A. Very. Long. Time. This one blew them all away. I couldn’t help making nearly obscene noises with every bite. B laughed as I carefully rationed my mushrooms to make sure that I had a mushroom to accompany every single savory, tender morsel of perfectly cooked cow (note to American travelers – ordering “medium” in France gets you what ordering “rare” gets you in the States – all the better for me!). I sopped up nearly all the juices with spare bits of bread, and when I ran out of bread, dear reader, I licked my fingers without shame. Or with only a tiny bit of shame.

Then, to be truly decadent, I ordered the chocolate lava cake. (I think she called it “fondant du chocolat” – which, when typed into Google translator, comes up as “melting chocolate,” which is extremely accurate). And – voila! – it came with ice cream this time!

I continued making obscene noises, but I did manage to resist licking either the plate or my fingers this time.

And then, just when we were going to ask for the check, they brought out cocktails, on the house. Rum and Blue CuraΓ§ao – “Lagon Blue.” Crystal (the waitress and part-owner) says it is a Villemagnaise speciality, and they sometimes have different colors – “Lagon Orange, Pink, Green….”

Lagon Bleu

It was very strong. And we had already finished 2/3 of a bottle of red. B and I sipped our cocktails very slowly, and even so, I was feeling enthusiastic about demonstrating my drunken ballet technique by the time we said “Merci beaucoup – bonsoir!”

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French Honeymoon, Day 8: In Which France is a Visual Cliche of Itself. (With Pictures!)

Today we succeeded in getting up early and taking a day hike along the GR7 (a national trail) to Boussagues, a historic town with “no facilities, but potable water” according to Thomas, who rented our Villemagne villa to us.

After two false starts (“Did you remember the phrase book?” and “Where is Chemin de la Violette? Why does this road turn into a lane which ends in a wall?”), we finally found our path.

I’ll tell the rest with pictures:

We’re actually not even out of Villemagne yet. This is Av. Jean Jaures, on the North side of town.

Rue du Mail. We have to get on top of that wall ahead to get to Chemin de la Violette.

Chemin de la Violette. We climbed a rusty ole’ ladder to get up here. We’ve been walking for about 5 minutes.

View from the Pont du Diable (“Devil’s Bridge”), a medieval bridge about 15 minutes out of town. From here we pick up the GR7 hiking trail.

Wandering at the base of the Pont du Diable. Great looking picnicking spot. Will have to remember…..

Still wandering around the base of Pont du Diable. We found the red/white blazes for the GR7 trail! See the X on that tree? I’m about to discover that means “Not This Way”…….

Found our way!

THIS was the friendly little blaze we were looking for!

Vineyard….

We took this pic for the cloud shadow cast on the mountainside.

And another panorama….

And another vineyard.

And another panorama. Around this time we realized we must be in national park territory, because we hadn’t seen any housing, vineyards, or other kinds of developments for a while.

And another country lane. Our elevation was pretty high by this point. (Well, high for the area….)

And – we think we must be in Boussagues! This is the first building we come to.

The entrance to the ruin. The sign says “S.V.P. Fermez,” which I incorrectly interpret to mean that it is closed.

I absolutely love stone architecture. I could look at this all day. Which is what I am doing, here on my South of France honeymoon ….. πŸ˜‰

This is cool….

We stop and picnic on a bench near the potable water spigot.

I like the composition of this pic, although I would edit out the railing if I had sophisticated enough software.

Pretty

This is a residential town as well as having some historic structures. No restaurants or stores or even a bodega, but the people who live here probably chose it for the peace and quiet….

Peekaboo πŸ™‚

I’m a sucker for a good stone arch.

And we come to the end of Boussagues and turn around.

And on our way out, we realized that the sign on the ruin didn’t read “Closed,” but “Please keep closed.” So we went in…

Turns out it’s an active cemetery.

We stopped here to read for an hour because our feet were tired.

Yeah. It was this kind of day. All day.

The lighting on the walk back was magical the whole way.

This looks like the same shot, but it’s not. Totally different mountain ahead.

This pic for the sky.

Obligatory harvest-time shot.

Another turn in the road, another vineyard.

Blueberries??…. Certainly looks that way, but we weren’t brave enough to try them…

Very interesting unidentified wildflower.

Horses!

I’m starting to suspect that my husband deliberately walks more slowly than me so that he can take pics of me from behind…..

Pont du Diable with the nearing sunset in our eyes…

Almost home…..

We were originally planning to eat in tonight, but decided we were too tired. So here are a couple more shots of the Villemagnaise πŸ™‚

Chicken πŸ™‚

Fig tart tonight! πŸ˜€

Traveler’s Note: To follow our route: we walked through town to the D922, turned right very briefly onto D922/Av. Jean Jaures, turned almost immediately left on Rue du Mail, followed that straight until it became a dirt path through a vineyard until it ended at a low stone wall. Here our map said we should turn right onto Chemin de la Violette. It took us some time and a double-checking of the satellite map before we realized that we had to get on top of the wall to find Chemin de la Violette. We climbed the rusty-looking but sturdy ladder in front of us; on the way back we realized that we could have just turned right, walked to the corner of the vineyard, and there is a much more forgiving slope up to Chemin de la Violette there. Go right on Chemin de la Violette until you hit D922 again (well, you could have just kept walking on D922 in the first place and ended up in the same place – but where’ the fun in that?). Cross over and turn left so that you are walking on the right-hand side, away from Villemagne. After 30-50 meters, there is a little break in the railing and a sign that says “Pont du Diable.” Turn off onto the stone steps you will find there, and from there, follow the white over red blazes (pictures above).

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French Honeymoon Day 7:Lots of Nothing. And Crepes. (with Recipe!)

I looooooove lazing around with my husband πŸ˜€Β Β  We felt we’d earned a day in. Here’s the most ambitious thing I did today (and it’s ridiculously easy):


Crepes:

1 cup flour

pinch of salt

1 and 1/4 cups milk

2 eggs

2 tblsp butter ( I totally forgot this and they came out fine)

Sift together, or just mix really well, the flour and salt.

Hollow out a place in the middle in which to crack the eggs. This makes the mixing easier. Or you could just crack the eggs in however you like. Mix them in very well (will be doughy).

Add the milk a little at a time. The batter will end very thin – a little thinner than cream.

Wipe a non-stick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.

Pour about a half-cup of batter on the skillet and immediately swish the pan around so that the batter coats the bottom as evenly as possible (it will be very thin).

After a minute, if your skillet is non-stick enough, you will find that the crepe is easy to peel off and flip over. I will confess that the first one or two crepes tend to look like tortured modern art sculptures before I quite get the technique down. According to one of my aunts, Julia Child once said “The first pancake, like the first child, should always be thrown out.” Being a first child, it took ten years or so before I saw the humor in this comment πŸ˜‰ In my opinion, though, they still taste delicious even if they’re, shall we say, less than symmetrical. I promise it doesn’t take long to figure out your technique. Flip the crepe and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Done.

Eat it:

buttered and sugared

with jam

with nutella

with cut-up fruit

with lemon juice and sugar.

with any combination of the above.

My favorite easy breakfast savory crepe:
Don’t flip the crepe – instead, as soon as the bottom is a little firm, crack an egg right onto the crepe in the pan and smush it with a spatula to break it up. The egg will start to cook right through the crepe. When the egg is 80% cooked, add something else to heat up with it – little slice of ham (pre-cooked), leftover roasted veggies, bits of sausage, bits of cheese, whatever. Delicious.

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Honeymoon Day 6: To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig….(with Recipe!)

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!

Once again, our town from above….

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 finally made it! I haven’t looked up that graffiti, but I bet it’s dirty….

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 πŸ™‚

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)

garlic

butter

“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 πŸ™‚

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