Hello dear friends, fellow campers, and food aficionados!
Gourmet Girl Denise here from Le Petit Saint Barnabé, France.
Well, it is 8:00 in the evening here and it is still 100 degrees outside. Thank goodness I live in an old stone house, built in the 1800s, with walls that are just about 3 feet thick. The difference in temperature between outside and inside is about 20 degrees! Upstairs it’s hotter but still at least 10 degrees cooler than outside. I guess the elders knew what they were doing! None the less, these temperatures are a record here in the Loire. And now there seems to be a water shortage too. I left Santa Barbara, California in the midst of a 7-year drought only to come here and enter into another one! You can only water your gardens between certain hours and in some areas, not at all. And the crazy thing is, there is a lot of water here in France. There are rivers that cross the country, and I mean big rivers, from north to south and east to west. And natural springs everywhere. But under the burning sun, all withers.
The bigger question is how will this affect our food sources? In my own small potager, I must water daily or lose my crop. I have a well but I am surrounded by agricultural lands, and they have priority to the groundwater. So, I must now rely on my knowledge aptly learned from living in Southern California. I take my dishwashing water out to the garden to water the potager and let the lawn die. I close my shutters during the day and keep the hot sun out. And pray for rain.
Meanwhile, my girls (the hens) are keeping the potager bug free and delighting in old, stale baguettes soaked in water and strewn in front of their hen house. They love it! And it is a better end to the stale bread than the garbage or the compost bin. They have stopped laying a bit with the hot weather but I get at least one or two eggs a day. Not bad for young pullets. I have enough to keep a dozen eggs in constant supply and am looking at making a couple of quiches tomorrow. Under Milo’s watchful eye the girls have been well behaved.
On the societal front, I attended an amazing event last Friday evening at the Chateau Champchevrier, a 30-minute drive from my farm. The Chateau has been in the same family for 300 years and was visited by Louis XIII many times in the 1600s.
This month in France is the 400th anniversary of the renaissance so many towns and villages are celebrating. This was a Medieval music event that was performed on harpsichord, lute, and viola de gamba, three beautiful instruments that the music was written for.
The amazing Viola de Gamba!
There were also four amazing vocalists singing with their accompaniment. The program was The Sacred and the Profane, and the sacred part was performed in a small round chapel on the grounds, and later, after intermission, which included a welcome glass of sparkling Vouvray, the profane was performed in one of the beautiful salons in the Chateau, right next door to a room where Louis XIII slept with his mistress. Hence the profane.
Photography was not allowed but I captured a tiny bit of the music here: IMG_5100
So despite the oppressive heat, life is good here in the Loire. It is the proverbial Pastoral. It is country life, with all of the ups and downs that we all experience no matter where we live. But boy am I glad I live here! Yes, the food is great!
Until next time, keep on cooking and experiencing the great outdoors. And pack your cooler with a lot of ice!
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey
So glad to hear you are surviving the heat and the garden! It’s totally reassuring that a person (you) can unplug a life and reinvent one in a totally different country. It seems you have come home!
Ps. Islay garden is looking really good, thanks to your wonderful planning!
So nice to hear from you! I have heard from the Wachtenheims who graciously sent pics of the garden at Islay. Thank you for your kind vote of approval!
I am loving living here in France and I do feel as though I am home. I hope one day you and some of the other girls in the tribe can come over for a little vaycay.
Please keep in touch via my email: email@example.com
Hi Denise! It is great to hear more about Chateau Champchevrier … I hadn’t realized that Louis XIII spent so much time there. And I am so envious of your living situation there in your river & chateaux paradise … drought or no drought !!!
The musical event was really amazing! You would have loved it! The period instruments and the beautiful singing voices transported me to another age. I had forgotten that this was the chateau we had visited when you were here. It wasn’t until I drove up and saw the familiar grounds and buildings that I remembered. They hold many events there throughout the year and I will be sure to attend again in the future.
We did not get much rain this past year and everything is very dry. Even so, I am very grateful to live in this beautiful area so full of history. I hope you are doing well and loving your little piece of paradise in beautiful Santa Barbara.