Monday, July 12, 2010
Before the Famine
I am reminded of the words of a friend of a friend, who explained the rational for homeschooling his children when people accused him of protecting them too much from the real world. He said: "If you knew a famine was coming and that your children would be suffering for years on end, what would you do? Would you begin to deprive them now so they would be accustomed to hardship? Or would you fatten them up, filling them with all of the good things you could give them in order to strengthen them against hard times to come?"
I love this analogy for homeschooling, and I think instinctively all mothers hold this to be true. My mother-in-law certainly does, but she does so in the literal sense. The past three months we have been well-fed and well taken care of, we have all gained a little weight, her darling son has gained more than the rest of us, as he allows himself to be stuffed full of all of his favorite foods. However, the past two days have seen an acceleration in the process!
Yesterday's lunch began with champagne and hors d'oeuvres out under the trees. The meal, outside as well, as a matter of course here when it is not raining, started off with oysters from the Arcachon Basin. They arrived fresh from the coast with an aunt, uncle and two cousins. This was accompanied by homemade pate, two kinds, one with foie gras, the other more properly called "graisserons". Next came both a tomato salad and a grated carrot salad, and baguettes so tender and crusty they would make someone heading back to sandwich-bread land weep. The main course was green beans with cold roast pork, perfectly seasoned the way Pierre's grandmother makes it, with garlic cloves inserted and salt and pepper rubbed into the skin. Green beans are never merely steamed and served with salt and butter here. They are first cooked and then tossed in a skillet with olive oil, butter (for the over-indulgent) and garlic, fresh, never powdered. That's the way to serve green beans! The wines were Tariquet, a white that is perfectly reliable, as it was developed by Australian enologists to give a precisely consistent product year after year. The red was "La Malatie", one we purchased ten years ago from friends who had started their own winery. It has aged very nicely, too bad we don't have any bottles left. There were two kinds of goat cheese and a Camembert that would have run all the way to the neighbor's house had we not eaten it straight off. A green lettuce salad and then the final course, dessert.
Dessert was a catastrophe. We celebrated Arthur's sixth birthday yesterday. My mother-in-law, in her aim to please, ordered three cakes for the birthday child and his entourage. My sister-in-law made her famous tiramisu, amazingly fantastic. Arthur, on the other hand, as a five-year-old boy, requested a plain old chocolate cake (gluten-free) from mama, and that is what I brought, with a can of whipped cream in lieu of frosting. Tummy aches were enjoyed by all and dinner was sparse last night.