December 23, 2005

'G' is for very cold!



My tongue trips over the next few letters like a sing-song kindergarten rhyme… Armagnac, Boudin, Community, Daguin, Foie gras, then lands like a frozen snowball in La Gascogne Givrée. What began as a handful of cold and crisp clear days has turned my long village, the Garonne River Valley, into a 357 mile long frozen food section. In the potager, full-leafed Savoy cabbage are translucent with cold, asparagus fronds are ice shrouded, and last year’s fennel left standing are delicate ice sculptures and rosemary lollipops decorate the dormant patch.


The ups and downs of growing food reflect the weather—some years the Garonne jumps her bed a half-dozen times or more, flooding the valley and delivering precious fertile silt; this year we are still in drought conditions six months after summer’s too hot heat. Our normal ‘gloomy Gascony’ winter, mild daytime temperatures and year round natural watering, has given way to a dry and cold stranglehold. In the sixteen years of playing house at Camont, I have never seen the landscape painted hoar frost white.


My sweet Gascony lies cradled in the arms of the north-flowing Garonne River and spills down toward the Pyrenees and the Basque countries. This fabled land of milk and honey, fertile, abundant water threaded by many rivers and springs, and mild temperatures has gone into hiding. France’s year-round potager now lies hidden under a winter blanket of ice lace crystals. Whereas ‘G’ will always be for Gascony, today ‘G’ is for la Gascogne givrée, glacée and gelée.

This pigeon didn't fly south.

3 comments:

Diva said...

I am shivering just looking at you lovely foto's!
We just returned from Sicily.. and I heard perhaps your chill and snow will arrive here in Tuscany for Christmas!

I am having a French Christmas as family has bagged us here in Florence..
so F is for Foie Gras, from my new French shop in the Central Market..
he also gave me a sweet wine to enjoy with it.
Some Pain d'espice, plus some Chevre from cuneo ( a little Italy) and sweets from sicily which we won't have to share!
oh yes.. a lovely split of french Champagne!

Joyeux Noel!

Anonymous said...

I sit chilled under a tree in Somers Point, New Jersey, the Garden state, sipping a Gascon egg nog
(2 parts armagnac, 1 part egg nog)and imagining a Christmas meal cooked en cheminee.
Cheers to the cold weather.
And to all those who show up.

Steffy said...

Christmas Greetings from your little sister Steffy in Alaska!!! (or "Ah-Laska" as we say here sometime!)
It is a balmy 0 degrees right now and light snow falling... hopefully it will clear up tonight enough to see the Aurora Borealis...
I am working all day here, but I am there in spirit with you-- sharing a cup of eggnog or mulled wine on board the Julia Hoyt or in the warm and cozy kitchen at Camont... and maybe taking a nice brisk walk canal side with you and Dupont....returning for hot chocolate (made from SCRATCH, of course!!! )
Thinking of all the crazy Christmases when we were kids... the anticipation of the newest Barbie or Midge Doll... or trying out our new EasyBake oven or curing each other with the candy pills from our matching little red and white plastic Nurses Kits...(we didnt care we were ONLY nurses back then, did we even know if GIRLS could grow up to be Doctors?)
Who knew back then that you would grow up to be a Barge Captain and I would become a retail Maven to the Eskimos and Oilfield Workers!
More to you later... have a wonder ful day and sending you all my love... talk to you soon!!!!