Monday, November 13, 2006

Ideal Food Exhibition (Part 2)

Still with me ? Good, here we are, still at the
Cagnes Hippodrome, for the Salon du Palais Gourmand ("Ideal Food Exhibition").

Here's a view of the western end of the course. In the background, towering above the trees is that somewhat controversial landmark, visible for miles around, and directly under the flight path to Nice Aeroport, namely the Marina Baie des Anges. Or as we call it, the ziggurat.

With all that splendid food on display, we thought we would try the sit-down menu on offer. It was brought to us by a Castelnaudary restaurant, the Hotel de France, which had been awarded the concession.
I had the cassoulet - tender long-cooked beans
with goose, and Toulouse sausage. My wife says they are
haricot beans in English, which is a bit redundant as descriptions go, apparently, given that haricot means "bean". So what you see in the bowl was "bean beans". Anyway, never mind the semantics. It was very tasty, though cooled rather too quickly in the November air.

One nice little incident to relate: shortly after I took the picture on the right, the French couple at the next table got up to go, and offered us their unfinished bottle of wine - gratefully accepted. Ah the freemasonry, and camaraderie, of food connoiseurs !

My wife's meal, just visible in the background,
was duck - a mix of hot duck gesiers and foie gras

I must mention the bread. Now that's something that's always been a sore point with me. French bread - especially the baguette- is one of France's great gifts to civilization. But it does have to be eaten quite quickly, while still crusty. Thereafter it goes leathery. So why do so many restaurants plonk down a basket of bread that has been sitting around for hours ? Why do the French tolerate it ?
Anyway the bread we were given was delightful - a sour dough recipe, with moist springy crumb.
So afterwards, we set off in search of more good bread.

And guess what we spotted next: another Basque
food stall - one that was doing bread ! Just the thing, we thought, to fortify the inner Basque . Sorry to keep banging on about that, but it's one of those limpet ideas - so to speak - given everything we've been told about being "Anglo-Saxons" and having the French constantly label us as such.

Well, we bought one of those loaves and took it home, but it was nothing special - a bit on the dense side. But there's a lot that I'm now prepared to forgive the 'old country'. I just wish their extremists would stop their bomb attacks.

Candy floss ! Now there's something I hadn't seen
in years, decades even. So we stood and watched how it was made. The lady was pouring sugar down the hole in the central reservoir, that was spinning at high speed.
But what was happening inside that reservoir to make the candy floss ?
These days, thanks to the Internet, one can get instant answers to this kind of thing within seconds. Apparently the sugar is quickly heated till it melts, and then the centrifugal force pushes the melt out through lots of tiny perforations to create those cotton wool threads. What kind of mind dreamt that one up, one wonders ?

The modern machine seems much faster than the ones I recall from fairgrounds as a child, but
maybe the quality has suffered somewhat. Modern candy floss doesn't seem to have
quite the same sparkle. Ah, nostalgia ain't what
it used to be !

One final picture: could not resist taking one of what was on sale outside.

Shortly after this blog began, a denizen of one my previous blogging haunts described it, in his typical put-down fashion, as a poubelle site, ie a rubbish bin.

Well, R of O, if you are reading this, I'll have you know that this poubelle, like the Zuny in the picture, is not just any old rubbish receptacle.


angela said...

I missed that one. Pity. H. would have enjoyed it.

Colin said...

Yes, there was a lot to see, Angela. Pity about the heat inside the marquee. Strange, when you consider it's now November.

One word of advice if you go next year. If you are offered a free sample of wine at one of the stalls, it's assumed you are shopping for a crate, not a single bottle.(And we know your views on wine). Our first inkling of this was when the lady opened up a brand new €16 bottle of Sancerre rosé - just for us. It was probably our quick offer to buy the opened bottle, and finish it at home that evening- that saved the day. You see, she declined our "strange" and unexpected offer, but realised a few seconds later why it had been made. Misunderstanding perhaps, on the part of two "tourists" but unpleasantness avoided !

Sorry to here about your son. I hope he makes a full and quick recovery.

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