At this time year, the thoughts of many who stay at the Chateau de Bois Giruad turn towards the kitchen. That may sound like the opening line to a French version of a certain Jona Lewie song, but the fact remains that a combination of autumnal weather, fresh bread, a bowl of soupe à l’oignon gratinée and a warm stove is a highly congenial one. Others may opt for gratin dauphinois or a serving of daube de boeuf Provençale, a substantial dish, and one which originated in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Then there is Hachis Parmentier, a meat and potato pie, tartiflette, Reblochon cheese melted over onions, lardons and potatoes…the list of culinary delights seems almost infinite.
In France, this time of year is associated with wild mushroom picking. As yet another demonstration of how one is always learning about a nation’s culture, I recently discovered why you often encounter people using a wicker basket to carry freshly picked fungi. It is to allow the spores to escape through the holes.
I’ve previously written about Halloween in France but of course, for many families across France, the most important date of this time of the year is the 1st November: Toussaint or All Saints’ Day. Government offices are closed, and it is the tradition to place heather or a pot of chrysanthemums on the graves of family members. In past times, All Saints’ Day coincided with the potato harvest, when the entire family would work in the fields. The authorities responded by the introduction of the two-week break known as the “potato holiday” which lasted from October to early November, and today it is known as the Toussaint holiday.
And as for Halloween in France or The UK, my highly subjective opinion is that Tarte Tatin and whipped cream and coffee followed by Carry On Screaming or The Quatermass X-Periment is infinitely superior to Trick or Treat.