A 10 ten road trip through France last month proved pretty spectacular in many ways. Driving 1500 miles in an MX5 with your dad, may for some be a test of resilience and patience. But no, what I experienced was warmth, laughter, a passion for the wide empty road and complete tolerance of my loud singing to Fleetwood Mac and Simon & Garfunkel.
As a foodie journey there were several highlights too. On arriving in Avignon, our ultimate destination, we spent time with old friends. In true French style and with it being the weekend, we indulged in long, drawn out lunches with plenty of Franglish incorporating never-ending courses of simple but effective dishes. My favourite was Sylvianne’s Aubergine Flan – served as a starter. This is a simple combination of only 3 ingredients – a jar of Riste D’Aubergine, 5 eggs and a pot of crème fraiche. Pop in the mixer and spoon this mix into a loaf tin. Bake for an hour at 180 degrees. Keep an eye on this as it cooks.
This dish is incredibly delicious and an ingenious alternative to pate for vegetarians. So good served alongside a simple rocket salad with a balsamic dressing.
What I loved as much as the food, was the time taken to be together, to listen to each other, to share stories and laughter. The aperitif etiquette set this up from the start. We waited – often for an hour – until the last person had finished their aperitif. Only then did the starter appear. And then onward with small courses in a relaxed and unhurried fashion.
We are missing a trick in this fast paced 21st C world if we don’t take time over food, time over family and conversations. It was a heart-warming ten days.