Mézin is a village of 1,500 souls located in the heart of Gascony (the department of Lot-et-Garonne) in south-west France. I took the fast train to visit an English friend who lived there. Here are some photos:
Here’s the town hall (below). As you can see, things are rocking:
You can just imagine walking down this narrow street in the Middle Ages, dodging the contents of chamber pots flung out of upstairs windows.
Here’s the church of Saint John the Baptist that dominates the town square. It was built over an extended period of time, from the 11th to the 14th century:
Here’s my friend’s house. When she bought it, it was a wreck. She had it gutted and renovated:
Those windows were flung wide open so I could sleep with the fresh, cold air pouring into the room. When outside of polluted Paris, I can’t get enough of country air. I’m on a constant quest for quietude and clean air.
The town square. To tell you the truth, I found the village to be kind of depressing (I didn’t say so to my friend, but I did wonder why she had chosen to live there.) I left after two days and two nights, and never went back.
I think what shocks the French more than the actual ingesting of horse is the defrauding of consumers through false and inaccurate labeling on frozen food boxes. I mean, they eat snails, frogs’ legs, brains, blood pudding and pigs trotters. Why would eating horsemeat set them aquiver?
When I first came to France to study French at Paul Valery University in the sunwashed city of Montpellier, I ate horsemeat. Unwittingly, of course. It was served to me one night in the guise of a hamburger. At the end of the meal the hostess asked me how I liked the meat. I said that it was good, but it had an odd sweetish flavour. Everyone at the table laughed and I was told that I had just eaten horsemeat. I was not amused.
And that’s what this current food fraud scandal is all about: we’ve been unwittingly eating it, thinking it was certified beef. When you go to the supermarket to buy a box of frozen lasagna or spaghetti bolognese and it’s written clearly on the box “100% French beef“, that’s what you expect to be eating. You might imagine contented cattle loafing in a sun-dappled Limousin valley and grazing on grass. What a shock to discover that what you’re really eating is bits of carcass from a sorry old horse that was slaughtered in an abattoir in Romania!!
That’s it, I’m becoming a full-fledged vegetarian.
A survey was conducted to determine the five biggest horsemeat-consuming countries: they are China, Mexico, Russia, Italy, and Kazakhstan. Italy! I was in Bologna over Christmas a few years ago. I wonder if those numerous plates of spaghetti Bolognese I scarfed down was full of horse? The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported that every year 100,000 live horses are transported into and around the European Union for human consumption, mainly to Italy but also to France and Belgium. From where do these live horses come?
And before my fellow Canadians get too smug in thinking that this happens in other countries, here’s a shocker: it appears that horse-eating countries of the world covet Canadian horseflesh. Oh, yes. One Canadian horse is worth $20,000. Every week approximately one hundred are loaded onto a plane at Calgary International Airport and flown to Japan to be slaughtered, sliced thin and served in Japanese restaurants. It’s a delicacy called basashi and it’s eaten raw.
In spite of the seriousness of the scandal that gripped France and Great Britain a few years ago, newspapers came up with some humourous headlines:
European horsemeat scandal gallops on. Horsemeat scandal set to spur tougher food tests. Restaurateurs respond to horsemeat neighsayers. Not sure I’d want to be saddled with horsemeat as a mane meal. Quit horsing around!
I just thought of this now: It behooves us to reflect on the matter.
Oh my word! This cake is more delicious than it looks and sounds. And its super-easy to make.
It all started last weekend when, after making my Saturday morning nut milk (almonds and cashews soaked all night long on the Friday), I was wondering what to do with the leftover pulp once I had ground the nuts. It seemed a shame to throw it away. And then I stumbled across this recipe which calls for 250 grams of ground almonds. I had all the ingredients at hand, so I made it. It’s a winner!
I made the syrup, didn’t bother with the zest, and, as instructed, poured it over the cake. As I was eating it, one word came to mind: Cointreau. This cake is crying out for it. Cointreau is a French orange-flavored triple sec liqueur. I’m going to buy some this weekend and do this syrupy cake all over again.
Here’s the recipe below. Note: if you don’t have blood oranges, regular oranges will do. And yes, the Cointreau goes in the syrup!
I love the energy of this video (the guy is cute, too.) The exuberance of this Londoner coming to Paris reminds me of me when I go to visit London.
As one of the commenters of this video wrote: I live in Paris and I approve this content.
P.S. However, I categorically refuse to eat frogs’ legs!
Just last week I was watching a movie starring Kirk and Kim (Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak.) Made in 1960, it’s called Strangers When We Meet.
I watch a lot of old movies, most of them on YouTube. This one isn’t great, but it’s good. The link is below. This is a perfect movie to watch on a Friday or Saturday night. So why not make yourself a mug of hot chocolate and curl up on the couch to watch it?
Kirk Douglas’s real name was Issur Danielovitch. He was tough because he had had a very tough life growing up; he was demanding of others because he demanded a lot from himself. The rest is history.
Like me, he was born in a Toronto suburb. Yes, he’s Canadian. Carrey attended my high school (Grade 10 only). I love this guy. Listen to his inspirational speech here. They broke the mold when he was made.
Last night I went to bed a member of the EU, this morning I awoke as a non-member. I have lost my EU citizenship, and I feel bereft, not to mention annoyed. Annoyed because British citizens living in the EU were denied the right to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Annoyed because some of the referendum claims, as touted by the EU Leave campaigners, were false and/or misleading.
What was so awful about being a European Union member? Was it that bad?? Geez, when you think of all the countries clamouring to join the EU …
I have two passports: Canadian, because I was born and lived half my life there, and British because my parents were English. Up until last night, having a British passport allowed me to live and work anywhere in the European Union, in my case in France. No longer. Right now, I’m feeling strangely disenfranchised. Steps need to be taken, steps have been taken on my behalf – extremely onerous, burdensome and expensive steps – to secure my legal rights to continue living and working in this country. But I haven’t received a response yet, so I’m in limbo.
The thing is, no one has a crystal ball. Maybe it won’t be bad. Maybe it’ll turn out alright for everyone – British and non-British alike – in the end. Maybe we’re blowing this all out of proportion. Only time will tell.
As for right now on this gloomy morning, a Frenchwoman summed it up pretty well in a newspaper article:
“This is obviously a momentous day, a terribly sad day; you’re abandoning this European project after nearly 50 years,” said Natalie Delassalle, 47, a public relations executive who takes the Eurostar twice a month for meetings in London. “Honestly, I can’t see why you’re doing it. I don’t understand. I don’t envy you – and not just the passport hassle. You’re on your own now, and the world feels like quite a hostile place. Good luck.”
Here’s a pessimistic article written by author, Ian McEwan; he sees nothing but damage and diminishment for the U.K. (I don’t believe it) –