The Tangerines that became Plump from the Heat of the Radiator
There is a chapter in one of Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher’s book , “The Art of Eating” where she talks about Tangerines. She was the all consummate food writer of the 50’s before there were serious food writers. The tangerine she refers to is sitting on top of a radiator in her apartment in Montpelier and slowly becomes full and plump from the heat and she describes it in such terms that it makes one want to run to the nearest food market and buy a sack of these jewels and try to do exactly what she did.
Tonight is the night for bragging. I try not to do this too often because bragging gets really old and people start to yawn and say “Yeah, WHATEVER, it must be nice to travel like you do, or it must be nice to be living in Paris or it must be just so great to have the world as your oyster,…. Smell you! So, because I cringe when someone says “I’M SO JEALOUS” because it is honestly not my intention, at the same time, I am just feeling so incredibly blessed that I want to share tonight’s very simple story. First, this is a place we have wanted to live for just long enough to have memorized some major metro stops, not just one week in and out on an airline pass where we’ve seen and experienced so very little. So, guess what? Lo and behold, it has actually happened. It has come to fruition. I don’t need to tell you that I prayed a very long time for this to happen to us. They say be careful what you wish for, and in this case, “Be careful what you pray for”. 🙂
We have no idea how long we have here, so we are enjoying each and every day as though it were a gift from God. Honestly. Truly.
Now the cool things that happened with food tonight. I love M.F.K. Fisher and have devoured her books for several years. I’m not a true “Foodie” because if push comes to shove and I need to get a meal at a “chain” – yes, even in France, that is where I will go. But I do appreciate, as does David really really good, well prepared & lovingly prepared cuisine. There is nothing quite like it.
In my “Black Friday Blog” where I show that a Haute Cuisine meal can go from $100 a plate to $500 + and say “Don’t do it”. Yeah, don’t do the high end. Unless ofcourse, money is absolutely no object whatsoever. But a once in a lifetime Haute Cuisine meal – yes – on the lower end – maybe $100 each with wine – do try it – if you can at all afford it. It is really like nothing you have ever experienced. The one meal I had like that (since we have been here) was to thank the wonderful gentleman who helped us find the most incredible furnished apartment for 6 months. We are extremely grateful to him and all that he did, so we took him out to “one of those” Auberge places with incredible cuisine. When the first course arrived I could not believe each bite that I put in my mouth, it was just THAT good. The second course, it was the same , ‘I cannot believe how good this tastes!” I would say over and over again. I don’t think the gentleman understood a word I was saying, but he saw the delight in my face. And it continued on until the last morsel of dessert was consumed.
Now, that being said, and because you know my history of eating at way too many pizza places since we’ve arrived, or at the Lamb Kebob place off the street, so that we didn’t go entirely broke the first month we were here, I have news of extreme importance.
If you know how to cook, even a little, and you don’t have to rely on recipes because you have no books with you, and it doesn’t do much good to go on the internet because everything is in different measurements not to mention an oven that you have to just “wing your way through”…..if you can ignore all that – you can have one of the most incredible meals, in your own place, even with only a hotplate, if you are so inclined.
Tonight, I had prepared two plates for me and my husband and it was so delicious that I had to share it with you, because, from my calculations, the entire meal was not over 6 Euros for the BOTH of us. ($7.50) And you do not go out for an even mediocre meal in France without spending atleast $17 per person.
Here is what I scrambled up after a 2 hour and 45 minute excursion to a local market by bus – that is from out the door of the apartment with grocery cart on wheels in hand, and the waiting for the bus, and the standing on overcrowded bus and the shopping at the big Auchon and the carting it back to the bus stop and waiting for the bus again and schlepping all that heavy stuff plus cart onto the bus, finding your navigo pass, and sitting down (finally) for the bus ride back home. All in very cold and windy weather.
I’m not complaining, I’m just telling you like it is.
Tonight’s dinner consisted of: left over spanish rice with added fresh mushrooms, small roasted eggplant pieces and a shallot, (from outdoor market) first sauted then added to rice. A very small piece of turkey. Salad with Mache and curly leaf lettuce from the outdoor market ( yesterday. ) It also contained, fresh sliced radishes, fresh tomatoes from market, slivers of fresh carrots, and slivers of Blue Cheese from the cheese case at Auchun tonight. It was tossed with olive oil and on mine a bit of red vinagrette. It was a “to die for “ salad. Maybe it was all the fresh wind in our faces to and fro the market, but I think not.
A bowl of potato soup, and no, not from scratch, just KNORR and oh so reasonable and oh so good.
Then we had (with all of the above ) a fresh baguette of French Bread from the Bolangerie with my all time favorite butter but which I can never buy from Whole Foods Market in the US because it’s tres cher, but not here, and that is Beurre D’ Isigny Extra Fin Beurre. D’ Isigny is where Walt Disney and family came from. I don’t know what it is about that butter, but I could eat it all by itself, without a thing, it is just that good. “Rapturedly” so.
Red wine from a “box” washed it all down and it was okay! Do not fear box wine. We had that wine at the school last month and it “coats” the glass, it is that good. Plus, my ex-husband & his wife turned us on to box wine and we are now sold. It was a dry red Bordeaux. SO so perfect.
Topped off by PLUMP tangerines sitting next to the heating element that my soup pot was on and with a teeny bit of dark chocolate. OH OH YUM!!!!!!!!
That my dear friends is my “bragg-a-mony” tonight because I’m so happy to have not only saved a fortune (by not eating out at a mediocre restaurant,) but because everything we tasted in that little kitchen of ours, became blessings on our tongue and I am truly grateful for my kitchen and for the chance of being able to do what I just did.