Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Back to basics

Although my mind is completely focused on my upcoming trip to Deal, I sometimes have flashbacks of the happy times I’ve spent in France; and the reasons why I like travelling to France so much.

One of those reasons is food, of course. When I look at the photos I’ve shot over the years of the food displays at outdoor markets and in village shops, my mouth starts watering. I’m also wondering how basic things like, i.e. ham, bread and butter can look and taste so good. Is it simply the fact because they are ‘different’ from what we can get at home? Or is it because we’re on vacation and more or less care-free? I don’t know. But I assure you that there is no way to ‘re-create’ a basic traditional ‘jambon beurre’ baguette with the produce – which, by the way is of excellent quality too – we can get here in Belgium.

However, the other day, I decided to give it a try. I bought a crispy and very French-looking baguette (the bag it came in even had a picture of the Eifel Tower on it!), a few slices of ‘jambon’ (ham) and I got out the (Belgian) slightly salted butter from the fridge.

The 'Belgian' ingredients for a traditional 'jambon-beurre' baguette.

I cut a slice of baguette, cut it length-wise and coated both halves with a generous layer of creamy butter. I took a slice of ham, folded it in two and put it between the two pieces of bread. I looked at it, and decided that it looked as good as the numerous ‘jambon-beurre’ baguettes I’ve eaten France over the years. Of course, I forgot to take a photo of the finished result, as I was too much in a hurry to try it.

The outcome? Well, it was nice. The butter blended well with the ham and the general taste and crispiness were close to the real thing … And yet, something was missing … Something I would never have here. The glorious view of the ‘Fleuve Royal’ – the royal stream, the Loire River, slowly making its way to the sea and the sun shining down on Amboise castle, making the many glass-pane windows sparkle like tiny diamonds!


Craig said...

I know just what you mean. You can faithfully re create a dish such as this, but it's still lacking authenticity which is probably more in our minds than our tongues! Also you can't get a real baguette anywher but France - close but not the same. I still miss our local boulangerie in Cognac... their "flutes" were superb and half of it was usually finished before we got back to the car!

ladybird said...

Craig, Somehow the local produce always tastes better when enjoyed locally. The best example I can think of is Pastis. Absolutely fabulous when consumed in the south of France; just ghastly in our climate! :)