Tea and cakes

Sounds very English? Or maybe I should say British? Perhaps not particularly French, either way?

I love tea! Earl Grey or peppermint ( or is that really an infusion?) but, above all, my tea tipple of preference, is good old ‘Builder’s tea’. There are no food or drink items I take to our French home, except for tea bags; not just any brand. For me, it has to be Yorkshire tea bags.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love strong, black coffee, too. We always stock up for our return to the UK. However, I think there is nothing more comforting, thirst quenching and delightful than a cup of tea.

I’ve written of my need for tea before:

Shock, horror, shame…

And the cake?

 

These are some of the cakes sampled by my nieces while staying in Castelnaudary, last week. They don’t drink tea but they certainly appreciated the patisseries!

My sister tried a cake that I had never come across before: un Paris Brest.

 

It is made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream. For my taste, it has too much cream but in case you fancy making some, here’s Mary Berry’s recipe from the Great British Bake Off:

http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/marys-paris-brest/

Do you have a favourite tea and cake? I’d love to know…

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Snack

This was the prompt word that popped up in ‘The Daily Post’ email I received from WordPress the other day. It prompted me to thinking about snacking in France.

When I’m in France, I don’t snack. Conversely, when I’m back in the UK, I find it far too easy to nibble between meals; crisps and biscuits being my usual snacks of choice. Why?

It may be a huge generalisation but, in my experience, the French don’t snack. This may, of course, be changing… Le fast-food, for example.

Such books as ‘French kids everything’ and ‘French women don’t get fat’ exemplify the not eating snacks myth. If it is a myth?
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Certainly, le goûter, which is mainly eaten by children around 4pm, is a French tradition. I remember being quite surprised the first time I came across a chunk of chocolate slapped in the middle of a baguette!

IMG_0130Photo courtesy of Pinterest: http://www.painlaboulangere.com/fr/pains/pain-gouter/gouter-petits-pains-barres-chocolat

The nearest I get to snacking when in France is when I have something to accompany an apéro …

I’ve come to the conclusion that snacking may be a cultural habit? What do you think? I know I have readers from all round the world, as well as France and the UK. So, I ‘d love to know if you’re a snacker! And, if you do snack, what is your snack of preference?

Crisps, chips and French fries…!

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I love language, in the fullest sense. I don’t, particularly, love crisps, chips or French fries! But I do eat them occasionally.
Why, I ask myself, are crisps, in France, called ’les chips’? So, in an attempt to find out, I wasted spent too much time doing some ‘research’.
The word ‘crisps’ is used in the UK and refers to thin slices of potato (or vegetables nowadays) sold as a snack. These are usually called “chips” in America. However, the word “chips” in the UK refers to what in America are called “French fries” or “fries”.

Are you with me?! In Canada, I have read, crisps are often called “croustilles” in French speaking areas. As I yet have to visit Canada, I can’t verify this! Also, in the French speaking parts of Canada and also in Europe, French fries are usually called “frites”…

Have you lost the plot yet…?!
Along the way I have discovered a mad interesting blog all about crisps:

https://ablogaboutcrisps.blogspot.fr/

Although I’m not a crisp fan, I do have a weakness for these:IMG_0112Are you a fan of crisps/chips/fries or do you have other favourites?

This post is linked to:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/Crisp 

An Indian … in Toulouse!

I do love Indian food, either as a take-away or in a restaurant. In the UK , I think it’s fair to say that we do love our Indian grub! However, I can’t remember ever having eaten in an Indian restaurant, in France. To be honest, it would never occur to me! On the other hand, I love North African food and when I was living in France, I used to eat it regularly.

Vegetarian food is another love of mine but I have yet to discover a vegetarian restaurant in Castelnaudary! So, when my husband met me at Toulouse airport last week and told me were going to eat at an Indian Vegetarian restaurant, in the city, I was very surprised.

The restaurant in question is called ‘Manger autrement’ and here’s the link to their website:  http://www.manger-autrement.com/  just in case you ever happen to find yourself in Toulouse and longing to have an Indian vegetarian meal!

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This is the meal I had; a thali. This is made up of a selection of dishes and is served on a round metal or steel platter. Each dish was served in a small bowl called a katori. They included rice, dahl (a lentil based dish) mushrooms and mixed vegetables. This was accompanied by a chapati ( a type of flatbread) . I have to say this was probably the best chapati I have ever eaten!

Overall, I enjoyed our meal. It certainly was a different experience! My only – slight – criticism would be that I found a couple of the dishes to be slightly bland for my taste buds. This could be because I usually go for the more spicy curries. Controversially, dare I suggest that the spicing may have been adapted for a French palate…?

Have you ever been to an Indian restaurant in France? I’d love to know!

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Only in France…

It is no secret as to how much I love an aperitif! It’s such a lovely precursor to a delicious meal. For me, sitting outside a café, in the sunshine, enjoying a Kir Royal is bliss!

Several of my blog posts have already focused on this quintessentially French tradition.

However, I was surprised to discover recently that there is a ‘Fédération Française de l’apéritif ‘.

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It is situated in Paris and has its own Facebook page. Here’s a link if you want to find out more:

https://www.facebook.com/ffaperitif/

I must admit I ‘liked’ their page and their recent post concerning the Paris marathon bought a smile to my face. Europe 1 interviewed Christine, a seventy-eight year old marathon runner, who enjoys an aperitif, every evening! If you speak French and want to hear her interview, here’s the link (although I’m not sure about the smoking…)

http://www.europe1.fr/sport/marathon-de-paris-la-doyenne-lassure-elle-fume-et-prend-laperitif-tous-les-soirs-3288152

What about you? Do you enjoy an aperitif? If yes, I’d love to know which one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Une question de langue

One of the things I have always loved the most about France is the language. I feel as if I morph into a different person when I’m speaking French. I wonder if everybody feels like this… I wonder if it’s the same for other languages…I’m guessing: yes!

Anyhow, we’re now back in Castelnaudary and on this occasion decided to drive down. We caught the ferry from Newhaven and broke our long journey south by staying in a hotel outside of Tours. It was an unremarkable hotel, one of a chain, but ideal if you just want somewhere to lay your head that is clean and comfortable. However, the staff were exceptionally accommodating and friendly.

At breakfast this caught my eye:

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It wasn’t the coffee machine that intrigued me, although it did produce surprisingly decent coffee. It was the expression ‘nuage de lait’ which I’ve never noticed before, perhaps because I always drink my coffee black!

I’ve known about a ‘larme de lait’ – a tear 💧 drop of milk but this is the my first experience of a ‘cloud of milk’. What a charming expression!

All kinds of images came into my head:

I’m afraid I can’t credit for the two photos above. They are from freeimages.com  The cloud was taken by Kimberley V and the coffee by se hui (Shirley) Kim.

Do you come across phrases that really catch your attention and charm you?

Please share if you do!

I am linking this post with #AllAboutFrance

Why Castelnaudary ?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France, over the years, and in lots of different places. My first ever trip was to Paris and I’ve returned countless times since. I spent a year in Tours, as a student and a year in Metz as a teacher. I’ve spent months in Grenoble and Angers, on courses. As a family, we’ve visited Brittany, Limousin. les Landes, Charentes and that’s just for starters!

So, why Castelnaudary to buy our home? Even my husband has asked me this question! It’s quite difficult to put a feeling into words … the Canal du Midi, the location – between Toulouse and Carcassone – a sense of the ‘real’ France and much, much more…

Why did you chose your home in France? Or anywhere else? Was it heart or head that influenced your decision? I’d love to know.