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

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sunday lunch – Caterer’s style

It’s been a while since I did a ‘Sunday lunch’ post; you remember, the posts featuring the Sunday lunches I cook for my mother. I haven’t stopped doing it, but the way in which I cook our Sunday lunches has changed since my mother started having mobility problems in the beginning of May. She hasn't left her house since, except for the odd walk in the garden. She’s using a 4-wheel walking-aid which makes it impossible to tackle stairs.

She has also stopped cooking Saturday lunch for me, which now puts me in charge of providing lunch on Saturday and Sunday … caterer’s style. Meaning, I prepare as much as I can in my kitchen, put everything (nice and hot) in a large carrier bag, and walk the 25 or so metres to my mother’s house, where she has laid the table and is waiting for me to arrive with lunch. Very often there are some finishing touches – like grilling a steak or sautéing the pre-boiled new potatoes – which I do ‘on location’.

On Saturday I try to keep it simple: a salad, an ‘assiette anglaise’, a ‘pain bagnat’ with smoked salmon, or – like yesterday – a big hamburger bun with all its trimmings. It was the first time in her 85 years of life that my mother had a hamburger presented that way. And to my surprise she actually enjoyed it!

During the week, a local caterer delivers a lunch ‘à domicile’. It is packed in plastic containers which snugly sit in a re-usable black Styrofoam box. Every weekday, when the caterer drops of the ‘plat du jour’ he recuperates the black box from the day before. The caterer also has a café/restaurant. I once had a pre-luncheon drink there when the employees in charge of the deliveries (there are two rounds) came back with the day’s empty boxes (it was around 1 p.m.) and the number of boxes was impressive! At least 30 to 40 per round. That makes it +/- 80 lunches to prepare and deliver every day … at 8 euro/lunch (offering very good value for money).

The lunch includes a bowl of soup, a main course (meat or fish, vegetables, (mostly mashed) potatoes and a (pre-packed) industrial desert). My mother is very satisfied with the quality of the meals and eats and finishes them with good appetite … or at least that is what she is telling me. She does find some a vegetables a bit disappointing though. They are not fresh, but tinned. Which is a bit of a shame in summer when there are so many fresh veggies available at really bottom prices. But I guess the cost of cleaning, washing, chopping and preparing these veggies is too labour intensive.

My mother therefore always welcomes my weekend ‘concoctions’. Last week I made cauliflower in a cheesy béchamel sauce and home-made ‘cordon blue’, for which I used freshly and thinly sliced veal scallops, San Daniele cured ham and Gruyere cheese.

Some of the ingredients for today's Sunday lunch:
chopped string beans, garlic butter and Châteaubriand steaks.

Today I’m doing grilled steak, finely chopped, last-minute boiled string beans with melted ‘ail et fines herbes’ butter, served with sautéed new potatoes.


Nadege said...

You can cook for me any time Martine! I know you must be a very good cook.
You are lucky to have found a good delivery food company for your mother. It must not be easy for you but your mother is very lucky to have you so close by.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds delicious Martine and I am sure your mother enjoyed it too. Looks like a good price for the steaks.

GaynorB said...

The home delivered meals certainly sound better thab the 'meals on wheels' available to my mother. She only had them for about a week and then cancelled!

I think that your mother must really appreciate the efforts you go to on her behalf. You are both very fortunate!

Louise said...

It was so enjoyable to read about another of your Sunday lunches. I used to deliver ' Meals on Wheels, on a volunteer basis each Friday, and It was wonderful to see the faces of our "clients" light up when we arrived, ready to always tell us about the highlights of their week...I am sorry to learn about your mother's mobility problems Martine...

leon sims said...

Martine - these are good times to just chat - I do the same with my Dad but on the phone due to the distance of 2000 kms but I ask many questions about his youth, growing up, work, sport - I learn so much about my father which are memories that I will have for a long time to come - I hope.
Our indiginous people translated their history the same way - word of mouth.
Enjoy your weekends with your mum.

VirginiaC said...

It's nice to see that you and your mum are still sharing weekend meals together.
The meal menu of the delivery service sounds far better than the ones we have here. Maybe you can suggest to them discreetly that they should try fresh veggies when they are in season.

Carolyn said...

Your meals sound so good. You and your mother apparently share a love of good food. Did you learn to cook from her when you were still at home?

Carolyn said...

Forgot to mention we went to the Belgian restaurant the other day that I believe I mentioned to you before. We drank good Belgian ale and ate mussels, as well as crepes with shrimp and Gruyere sauce. Good and filling, well worth the long drive.

ladybird said...

Nadege, The food delivery company is the best solution, given the circumstances. Otherwise my mother's daily meals would probably consist of bread and butter with some meat or cheese.

Veronica, The steaks were reasonably priced indeed. And they were excellent, approx. 200 gr each, juicy and tender.

Gaynor, The meals are really tasteful and very well prepared. Not top gastronomy but honest Belgian classics.

Louise, After four months with little improvement - except for the odd day every now and then - I think we now need to accept the fact that my mother will never again walk without her 4-wheel walking aid. Which is an pity because she has always been a very active woman.

Leon, My mother is going through dust covered boxes containing hundreds of photos of ancestors we have never known. Sepia photos of stern looking people in their 19th century Sunday best posing for the camera in a professional studio. We have a lot of fun guessing who's who and their lives must have been like.

Virginia, I think using fresh veggies would be too expensive (labour-wise), which would mean increasing the daily price of 8 euros, which although very reasonable (you can't cook for that price yourself) is almost too steep for people with a small pension.

Carolyn, I watched my mother cooking when I was a teenager, and I lent her a hand every now and then. But she never actually taught me, except maybe for the Béchamel sauce and her famous beef stew recipe, which she had from her mother. I must admit that I do 'mean beef stew' ;)!!
P.S. Glad you enjoyed the Belgian restaurant. However, savoury crepes are not a Belgian specialty. They're more a Northern France thing known as La Ficelle Picarde.