mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


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A Gorgeous Glut

It’s harvest time and everyone has a huge amount of courgettes. Last year we hardly had any!  This year if you mention the word courgette, friends and neighbours widen their eyes and step back in horror with a shake of the head and a quick “Non!” Friends have even taken to arriving for aperos clutching a selection of courgettes or courgette apero cakes – even better!

One lovely friend had too many tomatoes and bought a big bag along to a party.  I love tomatoes so it was a great present for me.

The freezer is full of courgettes and runner beans, haricots espagnole and a variety of different soups.

Our vine hasn’t given us so many grapes as usual but they are sweet and juicy.  We have turned them into juice and are eating the rest.

We will just have to get inventive with the courgette recipes.  There’s ratatouille, chutney, soup, braised, grilled, roast, stuffed, pureed, shredded, salad, cakes and bread.

Any other ideas?

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Verre de L’amitié

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Last night, the Mayor invited everyone in our commune to toast the New Year with a verre de l’amitié, a glass of friendship.  We made it through the snow thanks to a lift from friends with winter tyres on their car.  The snow was so pretty and the Christmas lights in the centre of the village made it look very festive.

It was nice to see so many people there from our small community.  The Mayor welcomed and thanked everyone who had managed to get there.  He then thanked everyone who works or volunteers for the village, the school, the library and various associations.   He outlined what work had been done around the commune and plans for the coming year.  There was a poignant moment when he asked us to remember everyone who had been touched by terrorism and for those that had passed away.

The champagne was flowing but as we are having a dry January we politely declined.  A first for both of us!  Despite lots of attempts to fill my glass I managed to stick to orange juice until the Mayor handed me a glass of champagne – it would have been rude to say no!  I discreetly passed it to a neighbour who was more than happy to drink it for me.

For a small commune of around 200 people we are an international and friendly bunch made up of mostly French, a couple of Dutch (the numbers of Dutch increases in the summer!!), an English family (us), a German couple, a Texan and a South African.

We thanked the Mayor and asked if he could organise more evenings like this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Insider Tips to French Café Society

 

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Sitting outside a café sipping a coffee and watching the world go by is part of daily life in France.  Manners and etiquette are important here so here’s a few tips to help keep you out of hot water!

As you arrive always greet the Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle behind the bar with a bonjour and a general bonjour to everyone in the room.  This is the case, especially in rural France when you enter a shop, post office, doctor.. anywhere…obviously not in a large supermarché and it maybe a bit different in Paris and large towns!  If you decide to sit on the terrace, find a seat and the waiter will come to you.

Always be polite in France. Manners count for a lot and a little politeness goes a long way.  No shouting or calling across the café to gain the attention of the waiter.  Remember merci and s’il vous plait!

Did you know the cost of your coffee depends on where you sit?  Outside on the terrace is always more expensive but sitting up at the bar is the cheapest and you can enjoy the atmosphere.

If you ask for ‘un café s’il vous plait’ the waiter will bring you a café noir or café express in a small expresso sized cup. It will be served with sugar cubes or sugar wraps on the saucer and a tiny biscuit or a chocolate covered almond.  The other popular coffee, mostly drunk at breakfast time is a café crème or café au lait with hot milk, served in a larger cup.

A custom I love is that if the café does not serve croissants or gateaux you can buy your cakes elsewhere and eat them in the café.  I would always check first out of politeness.  We did this recently, before we opened our big box of cakes on the table and the waitress even provided serviettes, plates and knives!!

Bottled water can be expensive and I am happy to drink Eau du robinet (tap water).  If you ask for a verre or pitcher d’eau du robinet you won’t be charged.

For a delicious treat, order a Café Gourmand, a petit café with a selection of bite sized desserts served alongside.

 

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You are generally left alone to take your time to enjoy your coffee.  Lots of cafés and bars, even in rural France have free Wi-Fi (internet). When you do decide that you want l‘addition, (the bill), the service charge is already included.  You will see the words Servis Compris on the bill which means service is already included in the total to be paid.

A small extra tip is still a nice gesture to recognise good service as that will go directly to your waiter.

What have your experiences been like?  I would love to know.

Please comment and share.