March 25, 2007

Bacon...& eggs.

I would be lying if I told you I cook everyday.
Most everyday, but not everyday.
Some days we cook up a storm. Some days it’s too stormy.
Some days are too quiet for words. Some are too noisy.
Some days young dogs need too much attention.
So instead of baking that bacon and prune tart I promised I’d post to match Judy’s in Tuscany, I just ate the bacon, ate the prunes, ate a couple cookies and called it a wash.

Instead, I put on my hunter/dogwalking green slicker over my hoody, wrap a scarf around my neck and take my 50-pound slab of Bacon for a walk in the spring rain. He is all pup, bones, flop and fur and has a squeaky voice like his favorite toys- a pig and a hedgehog. And he has been patient with me and this rain.

We walk up the country lane that leads to the next village, past a jumble of houses and manicured lawns, an old lilac hedge ready to pop, a pear orchard edged in white lace, a giant gravel pit that keeps growing. This is not an idyll countryside but one where work continues to domesticate this fertile Garonne River valley. The French idyll isn’t far away-- over the hills and through the woods, but the everyday world here in my neighborhood is about the everyday work of making food.

If I could throw a rock as good as I throw a mooring line, I could hit a dozen farms and fruit orchards from my towpath vantage point. Directly across the canal is the Trois Couronnes (the three crowns) a vast riverside orchard growing pear, apple, kiwi, and nashi (Japanese pears). A much smaller grove by the bridge is planted with just a hundred chanteclar apples trees. The trees are semi-dwarfed and pruned into a French version of bonsai, their heads bent over to duck under the storm netting that protects bud, flower, and fruit from hail.

One neighbor near Camont has a strawberry field under tight plastic wrap waiting for sun and warmth to push the berries into our market baskets. Another tends an odd assortment of market vegetables including a patch of rhubarb that is just sprouting deep green leaves.
Bacon is as interested in the farm fields as I am, except that he is looking for moles, leftover sheep droppings, puddles and anything else gross and muddy that he can root in and eat. He lives up to his pig farm raising and his name.

At the end of the little road that is so narrow I call them “French driveways”, is a farm where chickens cross the road, geese squawk our approach and guinea hens run rampant.
Bacon and I have forgotten to bring a basket so I carry home, in a plastic bag, a dozen deep yellow egg yolks, firm fresh whites, thin brown shells with hope that they make it back to the boat intact.

Some days we don’t cook, but we still have Bacon... and eggs for dinner.


Richard said...

Another lovely post...

But one thing grabs me - rhubarb - do the French really eat it? I thought it was just we Brits that did!

L Vanel said...

You're very good at throwing mooring lines, Kate. Thank you.

Ed Bruske said...

Lovely. Wish we were there. We're planting like mad on this side of the pond...

cityfarmer said...

What a baby!!!