I ended yesterday’s posting by mentioning our new barbecue, which has been sitting in the garage waiting for an appropriately sunny day. (I can’t get into the spirit of grilling meat when it’s cool and rainy outside.) Today was sunny and, sure enough, our new Weber got its first test.
I should explain why it’s taken us so long to buy a barbecue in France in the first place (since we’ve had our house in Daglan since 2004, originally as a holiday home). The answer lies in the price of barbecues here.
Many things in France strike us as inexpensive or at least reasonable (food, wine), while other items seem relatively costly (tools, many cosmetic items). But for some reason, barbecues are at the stupidly-high end of the costly range. The larger gas-fired barbecue units (like the ones we had in Toronto for the past several years) seem to cost about twice the price that we’d pay in Canada.
Eventually we gave in, and bought a small charcoal-burning unit, made by Weber, for just under 100 euros. Here it is:
Now, what to cook? Yesterday I ended my post with this: “I am thinking of some nice fat hamburgers cooked over charcoal; my wife Jan is thinking of grilling some sardines. We shall see.” As it turned out, we wound up grilling hamburgers, but not because I won the toss of a coin. I would have gladly gone along with Jan’s grilled-fish plan, but the fish market this morning didn’t have any of the cleaned large sardines that we wanted.
For the meat itself, we bought fresh ground beef, already shaped into patties by the supermarket butchers, but with no additives. I just added salt and pepper and olive oil (so they wouldn’t stick), and they were ready to go:
Of course it’s important to have vegetables as part of your meals, so Jan decided to cut a couple of potatoes into matchsticks. Then she would fry them in duck fat until they were just cooked, drain them, and then give them a final browning in the duck fat. Here they are, halfway through the process:
Once the charcoal was hot, I cooked the hamburgers while Jan finished the fries, and we were all set to plate. I admit that we went a little crazy with extra vegetables (in addition to the potatoes), as we had also sliced up a tomato. In addition, I used (tomato-based) ketchup on my burgers and Jan sautéed some large mushrooms to have with her burgers. Are we vegetable-savvy, or what? Here was my plate, ready for the table:
But to stay healthy, you need more than just a few servings of vegetables each day. Fruit is important too.
That’s why I chose to end my lunch with a slice of (leftover) apricot, pear and custard tart. We had been out to a friend’s house for dinner on Friday night, and one of the other guests brought the tart for dessert. Since we couldn’t eat it all, I was given this slice to take home:
Ever mindful of calories (and also because we had recently run out of whipping cream), I put a bit of crème fraîche on top. Dairy products are important too.