Les Jardins d’eau

Only 8km from Sarlat in Carsac-Aillac, there are gardens created in 1999 which feature a rare collection of aquatic plants on a Gallo-Roman site. Strolling along the pathways provides a visual splendor of colorful nature at its best, with benches placed at strategic places to relax in the shade and take in the tranquile setting – a lovely way to discover the area and enjoy a beautiful setting.

frog

lotus

overview pond

red lotus

http://www.jardinsdeau.com

 

French Riviera / Cote d’Azur

Sun and sea, nature, villages perched, beauty, diversity, art, activity, traditions, & yachts:  some words that come to mind, from living here for over 8 years, but what stands out the most is (Mediterranean) BLUE!  The one thing I would change would be to have sandy beaches in Nice, rather than pebbly ones.

Overview of Nice and all that this area has to offer – watch new Tourist Office video HERE

 

 

Product of the month: The Périgord Walnut

The Perigord walnut is an extremely healthy and versatile nut grown in southwestern France. Perigord is the old walnutsname for this region, which is now usually referred to in English as the Dordogne. Most of the Perigord walnut production area is located in the Dordogne department, but there are also significant amounts produced in the neighboring Corrèze and Lot departments and small areas of other neighboring ones.

It has benefited from a Protected Designation of Origin status since 2002, but the walnut has had a history in the region that dates back thousands of years. While the walnuts grown today aren’t quite the same, walnuts themselves have been found at 17,000-year-old prehistorical Cro-Magnon sites in the Périgord walnut-producing region.
The Périgord walnut production area is located in and around the départment of Dordogne in southwestern France.

Walnuts continued to play a major role in the culture of the area ever since then and are inextricably linked to the region’s history. During the early Middle Ages, peasants would often pay off their debts with Perigord walnuts and by the 13th century, tithes to local churches were paid in walnut oil. The oil was at one time considered to be worth its weight in gold and contributed greatly to the wealth of the region due to its widespread and many varied uses. In 1730, it was found that more than three fourths of the national peasant population used nothing but Perigord walnut oil for cooking. Besides culinary uses, the oil can also be used as body oil or in painting.

The Périgord walnut can be used in so many ways in cuisine that the list of culinary dishes it can’t be used in is probably a lot shorter than the list of dishes it is included in. The possibilities are almost endless: Salads, mousses, covered in chocolate, baked in breads, used in cheeses, roasted or used as oil – the Périgord walnut is a versatile nut that has thousands of applications. It’s even used to make a type of liqueur, Eau-de-vie de Noix du Périgord, and a type of wine in the region (vin de noix – “walnut wine”), bringing a subtle, nutty flavor to the drinks.

 

There are numerous health benefits of consuming this walnut. The Périgord region of France has one of the lowest rates of heart disease – by some estimates it has the second-lowest rate in the world. The cholesterol-lowering properties of the walnut, which play a large role in local cuisine, certainly help to play a part in this. The walnut is also rich in fiber and antioxidants, high in protein, and filled with healthy minerals like magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Credit/Source:  French Food in the U.S.

An Anecdote About Table Linens

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

“Up until the sixteenth century, eating was a rather rough-and-ready affair that we would certainly not describe as dining. As people and their habits became more refined, table settings and linens also became more refined. As the 16th century progressed, it became a sign of wealth for each diner to have his own napkin (rather than wiping one’s hands and mouth on clothes). It was a sign of even greater wealth if the napkins were changed for fresh ones several times as the meal progressed through its courses. These napkins were larger than the ones used today and were tied around the neck to protect all those expensive silks and brocades from dripping sauces, soups, and gravies. Because it was difficult to tie a napkin behind one’s head, polite diners helped each other with this little task and thus arose the saying “making both ends meet.”

Although there are many beautiful linen tables at flea markets, locally made cotton mats and napkins are mostly used. These can be purchased in wonderful colors and patterns and only become more beautiful with age. The best way to handle these table linens is to wash them with your favorite detergent and dry them on the line. Using scented linen water or scented sachets with table linens may interfere with food aromas much as scented candles on the table would.”

 

Source: Joie de Vivre, 2002

 

Saturday Market in Sarlat

Sarlat’s population is approximately 10,000 but in summer jumps to around 100,000.  It’s late May and today, I saw two tour buses, strategically parked for attending the weekly Saturday morning market: the main street through town becomes an avenue of vendors, as well as throughout the historic center and its side streets – a true medieval maze of sights, smells, and flavors!

Regional specialties are walnuts, foie gras, strawberries, confit de canard, and a cheese made from goat’s milk, called “cabecou.”

cab_cou

walnuts

Walnuts

crown of flowers

Couronne de fleurs

nutcrackers

Nutcrackers

Piella

Paella

food covers

Incense

incens

Incense

baskets cremerie flowers hats

olives

food covers

Food screens & dream catchers

main square

Place de la Liberte (main square)

main street

Rue de la Republique

street tablecloths

confit de canard

Confit de canard

bread cheese

food stand strawberries

French eating habits: An introduction for your kids

French eating habits are traditionally very healthy, and food is first and foremost a pleasure. Most French children will devour food that children in other countries may never even encounter: Roquefort cheese, mussels, vinaigrette on green salad and vegetable soup. So what’s the secret?

In her book ‘French Kids Eat Everything’ Karen Le Billon describes a scene she experienced in a French restaurant, of a toddler dining with his parents: “He sat patiently as the meal progressed, eyes glazing over until he slumped over and fell asleep while his parents continued their meal undisturbed. When it was time to go, their child was woken up without ceremony. Popping his thumb in his mouth, he placidly allowed himself to be carried out of the restaurant without making a sound.”

French eating habits see French children not only eat what is put in front of them, but they are also taught to treat food and meal times with respect. Food, they learn, is an art form: an object of fulfilment to be shared with others. They will eat wholesome, natural food, try new flavours and participate in discussion at the dinner table. So how do we teach our children to do the same? Here are some tips for introducing your children to French eating habits.

Begin treating meal times as an event

Eat at least one meal a day as a family and treat it as an event to look forward to. Use pretty plates, glasses instead of childish cups and a tablecloth. Karen Le Billon suggests putting in place a meal time ritual where each member of the family recounts their favourite part of the day. Do not allow electronics or toys at the table. Mealtime should be for sharing and discussion and you and your children should have each other’s full attention. Allow your children the fulfilment of participating independently in the meal by letting them set the table and serve their food themselves.

Introduce new foods gradually

Many French people believe in the phase d’opposition, a phase that begins at age two in which children begin to reject new foods. For this reason, they gradually introduce a large amount of new foods throughout the first two years of life. They begin by offering soft, mild food to babies before progressing to stronger flavours and different textures. So, you will more likely find a French baby eating soft Roquefort than cheddar, and beginning with leek purée before moving on to whole vegetables.

If your children dislike vegetables, start them off with a smooth soup of carrots or courgette. You can have fun with the colours, pureeing beets for a pink purée or red pepper for a bright red soup. You may have to serve the soup a few times before they begin to enjoy it. Serve new foods alongside food that your children already like. Pasta can be tossed with spinach, for example.

Let your children see you tasting new foods, too. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and discover new flavours with them! Once your child is enjoying a certain food in one form, you should try serving it in a different way. After they have discovered carrot soup, serve thin slices of steamed carrots as part of the next meal. Do not put pressure on you children to eat new things. French eating habits dictate that everyone must taste, but they aren’t obliged to finish if they dislike something. Forcing a child to eat a particular food will cause a long term aversion to it.

Everybody must eat the same

My French Life™_French eating habits_Child eatingThe menu for meal times should be the same for everyone: this means no alternatives for picky eaters. Do not fuss if your children do not eat at first—this will create anxiety and make the problem worse. You want your children to see eating as normal and a source of pleasure they don’t want to miss out on, not something they do as a favour to you.

Most importantly, you must abide by your own rules: your children cannot be expected to change their eating habits if you are not leading by example, so try to adapt French eating habits yourself.

Reduce unnecessary snacking

Numerous western cultures are prone to offering their children snacks every few hours, but French children eat one big snack a day. This is usually a bowl of fruit, a sandwich or apple compote. The French teach their children that it’s okay to feel a little hungry between meals, and believe that reducing snacking means their children will eat more at meal times, including the vegetables served.

My French Life™_French eating habits_Cherries

It may be hard to get children out of the habit of snacking, and into French eating habits—especially if they are used to eating between every meal. Instead of abolishing snacking completely, you could offer just fruit when your child asks for food. Plan snack-time for mid afternoon; French children have the gouté at around 4pm. Get your children involved in choosing their daily snack: fruit salad one day, banana bread the next. As a treat, they could even have Karen Le Billon’s chocolate stuffed baguette! Everything in moderation is the key.

Include your children in meal prep

You are in charge of the menu in your house, but this does not mean that your children should be denied a choice. Instead of disguising healthy food, encourage children to help you put family meals together. Allow them to choose a type of vegetable for each meal, or a healthy dish from a selection you have given them.

Children can participate in the cooking too. Preparing a meal will give them more of an incentive to eat it, and will teach them where their food comes from and how the different flavours come together. Have your child stir the pot on the stove or chop soft vegetables with a butter knife. Children love to feel included and if you trust them with these jobs, they will begin to see your new ‘food rules’ as a family choice. In this way, French eating habits will become second nature.

Treat food as a pleasure

Healthy food choices are a part of French eating habits, providing a path to enjoyment and health and definitely not as a way to lose weight. Explain this to your children in a way they will understand: “wholesome food will help us grow, strengthen our bones, give us more energy and feel more satisfying.”  Treat food as something to delight in. Eat slowly and discuss the taste and texture of the food you are eating. Suggest that the children take small bites and ask them what they can taste in their cheese, or what the mousse au chocolat feels like on their tongue.

My French Life™_French eating habits_Chocolate mousse and pumpkin sponge cake

French eating habits are such that parents never use food as a punishment, reward or bribe. There are no cookies as an incentive to keep children quiet in the car, and dessert is rarely taken away for bad behaviour. This would undermine the positive aspect that the French teach their children to associate with food.

Credit/Source: Written by Stephanie Williamson for My French Life, May 2016