The foire au gras this weekend in Roujan is the beginning of the Christmas season. People here don’t send cards, give as many presents or shop as determinedly as those in other countries, but food, as always, is important. The foire au gras (which translates into English as ‘fat fair’, but this doesn’t sound so good), is a chance to buy foie gras, cured duck breast, whole ducks, wine, cured sausages …. all the delicious foods that are part of Christmas meals in this area, and all directly from the producers.
The fair is held in the village hall and sports hall, a very modern setting for a traditional event. Outside there were cheese, shellfish and vegetables stalls and amusements for children. Inside there were rows of craft stalls and, most importantly, the wine and food producers’ stands.
We bought a duck and some foie gras from M. Gaubert of Camp Grand in the Aveyron, who was eager to talk about his produce and give advice about cooking and serving it. We also tasted for the first time (and bought) some excellent wines from Domaine Bonian at nearby Pouzolles. Some say that this is an expensive way to buy these products, but I would much prefer to pay a little extra and buy from the producers, talk to them and taste, rather than buying anonymously in a supermarket.
Some people, too, I know, have reservations about foie gras production, but I think that when it is properly produced it is not cruel, unlike the mass-produced battery-farmed chicken, eggs and pork which are eaten by so many.
Pruning the olive tree
A couple of weeks ago we harvested the olives from the older and slightly larger of our two olive trees. This tree was one we bought without thinking too much about it, soon after we bought the garden, as we wanted to plant one as soon as possible. It has always been rather straggly and was in need of a good prune, which I did this morning. The aim when pruning olive trees is to have space in the centre with the branches spreading outwards and this is what I’ve tried to do.
|Before pruning . . .||
. . . and after.
Pruning like this may mean a smaller crop next year, but it should make a better shaped tree for the future.
|I’ve taken the fresher, newer leaves to dry because I want to try olive leaf tea. The other branches will make a good start for the fire the next time we light the barbecue.|
|And what is this doing here? Anemones aren’t supposed to flower until the spring, but this one seems to have been fooled by the warm weather we’ve been having lately.|