Winter Frost

Winter Frost

The festive season has arrived!  And here in sunny southern France the Quercy has been frozen into a Narnian landscape, enchanting and exceptionally beautiful but wickedly cold.  A wardrobe full of fur coats would be a definite asset.
The markets are winding up for Christmas, the geese are already fat and glorious and the Christmas Eve market in Cahors will be the centre of the commercial celebrations this Saturday.  Magnificent, be-ribboned birds will be laid out in all their glory. Ducks, guinea fowl, black turkeys and pheasants will all be jostling for position if you don’t fancy – or can’t accommodate – the traditional bird.  But the famous Quercy goose will take pride of place and comes away with all the honours.
In days gone by the traditional Christmas goose used to be sold ‘avec foie’ so that the housewife could make the most delicious treat of all.  Not any more, you’d be lucky indeed to find buried treasure within your golden goose now.
I bought my marrons glaces in Cahors market last week and was cajoled into trying a nip of aperitif de noix on the side.

Christmas Geese

Christmas Geese

“Strong stuff!” The old boy told me and displayed his lack of formal dentistry as I sneezed in assent.  I’m not really used to a strong dose of liqueur in the early morning.  I snuffled about for a tissue whilst he tempted me with a splendidly laid out box of dark chocolate pruneaux d’Agen. I’m sorry to say I succumbed to those too.  My boxes were carefully wrapped in an old copy of La Depeche and ceremoniously placed in the bottom of my market bag.
Bon appetit et Bonne fetes, Madame.” He coughed, taking a swig from the aperitif bottle to promote an appropriately festive mood, and thaw his vocal chords. I thanked him and moved away to stock up on the deliciously salty goats cheeses from the high causses, then spotted a small pile of turnip-tops at the edge of another stall. Delicious, just the thing to toss with Bayonne ham and buttery pasta on a cold night.
I passed the marron glaces man as I made my way back through the market, he was well away, that one liberal swig had fully revived his frozen spirits.
Joyeux Noel, Madame!”  He bellowed across the cobbles to me.  And so say all of us!

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful New Year!

© Amanda Lawrence 2005

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Christmas in the Quercy 2005 from French Vie

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