Living A Very French Life
Welcome to the very picturesque countryside of la France where cows gleefully chew their grass and birds build their cosy nests. For some reason I am very drawn to this country, though the reason does not entail the word croissant – I promise. This time, I am here with my friend Léa whom I met in Berlin last year. Visiting friends where they grew up is a beautiful way of travelling as it allows an authentic impression of a city or a village and also: it makes for the best food trip because the locals know just where to get what!
Léa grew up in a village by the name Saint Laurent de Mûre which is located in the outskirts of Lyon, from where you can see the white snowy top of Mont Blanc. It earned its name thanks to the many blackberries that grow in this region. Léa is such a good tour guide that she even shared a little more background regarding this berry delicious fact: in Lyon, there are two hills. One for the church and the other for the workers who produced silk. “And where do you think the silk comes from, Judith?”, Léa asks me with her adorable French accent. “From the worms that eat the leafs of the blackberries behind my parents’ house!”, she answers. It all comes full circle. And what do her parents do in blackberry season? Cook blackberry jam, bake blackberry pie and eat lots and lots of blackberries just like that – comme ça!
In Lyon, two rivers flow through the cobbled streets and meet at some point: le Rhône et la Saone. We walked through town, admired the views after walking up the elevations, listened to French people speak as it they were singing a little melody and bought cheese, avocado, hummus and tomatoes for a sunny picnic. I am enjoying la vie française a lot!
In this city you will discover many beautifully painted houses that radiate an abundance of history. You will walk through narrow aisles that were made in order to protect the silk when being transported to manufacturers. You’ll hear street musicians sharing their tunes with cosy coffee drinkers and baguette eaters. You will see colourful flowers, tiny bookshops and not to forget: boulangerie after boulangerie after boulangerie. (Don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near complaining about the frequency of bakeries.) We went for a day trip to Lyon but spend most of our stay and most of our breakfasts (a very accurate way to measure time) in Saint Laurent de Mûre, where Léa’s parents live. They cooked for us, treated us to lots of epic music by Queen and took us for a visit to the beautiful French countryside. On Sundays, Léa’s family would go on a nature excursion to walk, hike or swim. On this sunny Sunday, we set out to do exactly that. After enjoying fresh morning coffee, listening to the French birds and sitting on the sunny terrace, we packed a lush picnic and drove through the hilly countryside to an icy blue lake. Should I give you a little more information about what goodies our picnic basket contained? Bien sûr: we had baguette and cheese (obviously, we are in France after all! Cheese is what they live on and I am not even exaggerating with that statement), hummus, ratatouille (Léa’s favourite childhood dish), avocado, juicy peaches and a batch of tahini brownies that I prepared in the morning. Showing healthier options in the form of cakes and sweets is one of my favourite things to do and people always appreciate the gesture of sharing a recipe. This household will bake tahini brownies from now on and I’m more than happy about that!
The French share a passion for food that is like no other. They truly care about good quality produce, take pride in the regions that specialise in wine, cheese or pastries and love to make you taste anything and everything they have in store.
Léa’s parents both love to cook. While her mother makes delicious prune stews, potato gratins and delicious salads, her father’s specialty is a tarte aux tomates with mustard and goats cheese. Did we spend all day talking about food? Yes, and also about chocolate.
Léa’s lovely brother is next level when it comes to eating cheese. See in the photo below how he does it: AS A WHOLE!
For our last dinner, I prepared a little dessert: chocolate truffles. I blended soft pitted dates, cocoa powder, oats, nuts, cinnamon, tahini and raisins and rolled them in some more cocoa! Also, I’ve been know to flirt with my chocolate truffles before devouring them – and sharing them of course. (Come on, I would never not share my chocolate truffles!) This trip has been a true food exchange and while my stomach feels rather full, so does my heart. ♥
Perhaps I was French in a previous life because I do feel quite at home next to all the blackberries and fig trees (I mean, Judith Gilles is clearly more French than German – at least it sounds nicer en français). Also, I studied French in high school but basically survive in this place by making English or German words sounds French. The success rate is 38 to 62% but I won’t tell you which is which (I do like to keep this little secret to myself).
Thank you Claude & Patrick for hosting Léa and me for a beautiful few days. We will come back and eat more tahini brownies with Bohemian Rhapsody playing in the background!