Cooking in France

1 saucepan + 1 gas burner + 1 vegetarian + 2 omnivores (1 very much on the carni- side of omnivore) = very simple one-pot cooking in the campsite at night. It’s not difficult to do with a small store of non-perishable picnic basket perennials – olive oil, harissa paste, sherry vinegar, grainy mustard, Maldon salt and the tiniest pepper grinder – and a few purchases from the local market and shops, including garlic and onions, sun-warmed tomatoes, the sweetest of sweet peppers, a selection of cheese, pâté and salami (to keep the meat-lovers happy), les oeufs biologique (organic eggs) and a few tins of haricot beans and lentils.

All suppers started with chopped onions softening in the pan, the Husband balancing and stirring, while I chopped garlic to cook next and decided what was on the menu tonight. Sometimes it was a tomato and lentil stew, other nights we had creamy haricot beans with crème fraîche, Pipérade (scrambled eggs in a stew of peppers and tomatoes) or a tomato bean dish, sprinkled with crumbled feta. We also ate salads of parsley-flecked Tabouleh, laden with chopped tomatoes and diced cucumber; plates of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with fleur de sel; bunches of radishes, dabbed with butter and sprinked with flakes of Maldon salt; and raw milk Camembert, smeared on ragged chunks of baguette.

There was nothing that took longer than 15 minutes to prepare while hunkered down on our picnic rug in the late evening sunshine, still salted from an afternoon on the beach, drinking our latest bottle of vin de pays. Vegetables that had never encountered a fridge tasted sweeter than normal, especially after they spent an afternoon under canvas, awaiting my knife. But then, it’s the holidays – everything tastes magical when eaten in good company with the flavour of the outdoors, spiced with the relish of ridiculously cheap wine and mopped up with crusty bread from the local boulanger. It’s a far cry from a rainy Monday in North Cork.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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4 Responses

  1. Donal says:

    I have just been hanging on your every word in this post! That sounds so amazing! BRING ME MY HOLIDAYS!ps. I’ll let you know what’s happening re: food styling class.

  2. Caroline says:

    It sounds like you’ve been pretty busy lately – how’s the book coming along and when can we expect to see it? Hope you’ve got good holidays planned for afterwards!

  3. Donal says:

    The book is coming along grand, it won’t be in print until this time next year, but I’m so tempted to post stuff on the blog! Hoping to have the bulk written by the end of August and then I’m off to Turkey for 2 weeks in the sun!You should post up a few pics of France! You made it sound so amazing!

  4. Caroline says:

    Would you believe that I didn’t take any photos – not one! – while I was away? I was too busy enjoying myself to take out the camera plus, oftentimes when the food was cooked, it was much too dark for us to see what was on the plate, never mind trying to take a picture. Sometimes holidays need to be just that lazy! I’ll be looking forward to seeing your pics from Turkey, though…

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