Provence… A Lunch… And Finding Beauty

November 22, 2012

Some days are just right… Do you know what I mean? They start out like any old day but they end up being one to remember. Magical days that happen all too infrequently… days, when the rigours of the everyday are replaced by the beauty around you… when all else is forgotten and we find the time to embrace the moment.

Yesterday was like that… A day that was meant to be full of the practicalities and the administrations of life, turned into a day of pleasure.  I celebrated the joys of Provence and focused on all there is to appreciate and to adore in this part of the world… the simple pleasures… the pleasure of companionship, of like-minded souls… and the pleasures of nature and tradition… They were the hours to be truly thankful… to appreciate what is in front, not what is behind or what hasn’t happened. A day to savour the simple… to enjoy good company… and to breathe, without pressure, without guilt for what hasn’t been done… precious moments, just to be.

For some it would seem like an ordinary day… a day that doesn’t deserve my romantic observations… but for me it was not. It was as if I were seeing my beloved Provence for the first time.

I have been helping a friend with her olive harvest… just in small ways… lending this and that… and I agreed to help her transport the olives to a local mill… A record crop for her this year and I was only too happy to drive a load… She invited me to have lunch before our excursion over the Alpilles to her favourite moulin… It wasn’t that we have never shared a meal together… we have, many times… but this meal was special… it was our camaraderie over the olives, her excitement that her olive trees had produced the most fruit of any year… and it was our shared love of Provence… This home away from home for both of us.

Her lunch was heaven.. it was beyond delicious… and she tells me it was so easy to prepare… We ate poussin with sautéed leeks and mixed quinoa… The chicken was one of the most delicious I have ever tasted… I thought you may like to try it over the holidays… Here is the how…

You will need…

I poussin

fresh peeled garlic cloves to taste

a cup of dried raisins

a handful of fresh sage if possible

pepper and salt to taste

olive oil

And then…

Into a saucepan pour the olive oil… a generous pour… add the garlic cloves, the herbs and the pouissin… Make sure the heat is low and gently brown the chicken on all sides… Once it is brown, cover with a lid and let it cook slowly for about 45 minutes… 15 minutes before the chicken is cooked… add the raisons…

To serve

Cut the pouissin in half, cover with the raisins and remaining sauce and accompany with sauteed leeks and mixed quinoa…

After lunch, we loaded up the cars and set off to the olive mill. On the drive… through our village of Saint Remy de Provence, past the Roman monuments and up and over the Alpilles mountains towards Maussane, I was overcome by the visual beauty around me. On a day such as this my life takes on a dream quality… The leaves from the plane trees were falling, scattering their golden wash all over the countryside… the landscape was bigger and so much brighter without the heady haze of summer… The vines, lined up in precision, were glowing with autumn health and the wood smoke scented the air ever so sweetly… As I wound my way through the mountains towards Maussane I tried to think how I could capture this magical picture… How could I share this glory of nature… I can’t… Nature does not stand still…  she won’t reveal her all… she is secretive and only shows her best side in person… Nature is a miracle… an unconquerable force that can love us and hate us at her very whim. She can be cruel but she can also be loving, gentle and kind… She was at her very best, her most generous yesterday…

When we arrived at the moulin… we got out of our separate cars and a look passed between us…  we were simpatico, of the same feelings..We both had a look of wonder and disbelief on our faces… We were totally in awe of our surroundings… we were both so thankful for the privilege of having this day…

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate…may your holidays be joyful, happy, safe and full of love… xv

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37 Comments

  • Catherine says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Thank you for sharing.

  • Karen says:

    It is a glorious time of year!
    Karen

  • Anita Rivera says:

    THIS IS WHY I love the French. Well, for many more reasons, but this is the first and foremost: THEY KNOW HOW TO ENJOY THE SIMPLE PLEASURES!

    When we were in France, my husband could not figure out WHY the food tasted so good, so DIFFERENT. I believe that it is the quality first of all, for though we are a rich nation here in the US, the quality of our food has been watered down. But in France, once strawberry season is over, IT IT OVER. No forcing….par contre, here, we can buy strawberries all year round, the size of lemons, but with no flavor! But the key ingredient in French cuisine to me, is very few additives, pure food, great care and love. YES, you can taste the love. It tastes like someone took their time to choose the right combinations IN SEASON.

    Your recipe looks marvelous dearest Vicki. I think I am making this for our Christmas dinner. I already prepared my turkey for today’s Thanksgiving feast, but a French inspired dinner for Christmas is my gift to myself. AND les Treize desserts!!! BISOUS, Anita

    • Vicki says:

      So true Anita… no such thing as a strawberry in the winter… not here anyway… and cooking is about more than just ingredients… it needs passion, commitment and love… otherwise we would all be Michelin chefs..:)
      Have a wonderful day and happy Thanksgiving..

  • What a wonderful description of an equally wonderful day. Giving thanks for nature’s bounty is so much better than being thankful for materialistic bounty. I have no idea what olive harvesting is like but I love taking off and dreaming of what your day was like. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    • Vicki says:

      THank you Sarah.. Olives and the growing of them makes for a simple life… but that is the beauty… I wish that life were always as simple…

  • Rena says:

    Every day deserves to be valued as a special one. To help somebody gives you a nondescript happy feeling because it is more blessed to give than you receive. And this was perhaps the reason for such a
    wonderful feeling. Those memories we should carry always deep in our heart because it is a power source for less happy days. Have an other great day you lucky Vicki.

  • Carol Fertig says:

    1. You are such a good writer!
    2. I guess because you are such a good writer I totally understood the sense perception of the day.
    3. These are the moments that really make up the important things in life, thanks for sharing that.
    4. That chicken sounds D-Vine!!!!
    Xc

    • Vicki says:

      1. Don’t know about that… specially with all the spelling mistakes today that I have sneakily corrected here… but too late for all my email readers… they know my short comings…:)
      2. I didn’t do the day justice… some days are just right…
      3. We all need to remember… and sometimes I forget.. it is good to be grounded by nature…
      4. Chicken was a triumph… :)

  • It sounds divine, all of it…..the colours, the atmosphere, the company, and the pouissin sounds so yummy. Lady Nature is showing off for you in Provence, how wonderful. She is doing a bit of the same here bright blue skies and temps in the 60′s but off she goes tomorrow apparently. A lovely, lovely story Vicki but I wish you added more photos………I do.

  • Pamela says:

    thank you for sharing your day with us. it sounded just lovely. today i am feeling a bit lonely for familiar faces and traditions. however, i am so very thankful that we live here! can you tell me..did she use a whole chicken or just pieces? the lunch sounds divine!

    • Vicki says:

      You cook the baby chicken whole and then slice it in half for serving… it was incredible… I am going to make it this weekend… :)

  • emily says:

    Hi Vicki,

    Thanks for this beautiful post. I felt transported to Provence for a few minutes…Does France have a similar holiday to Thanksgiving?

    Emily

    • Vicki says:

      Not that I know of… Easter is big as is Christmas… although I am off to celebrate with some American friends… even though I’m not… So I suspect there will be pumpkin pie in provence… :)

  • Jeanne Elizardi says:

    Vicki, what a wonderful story to wake up to this Thanksgiving morning. I was right there with you, so appreciating what you are surrounded by so much of the time. Some day I hope to spend more and more time there as well. Many thanks for the suggestions you gave my husband, David a few days ago.

    I so appreciate your letting us live vicariously through your life. I look for your blog first thing every morning to set my day.

    Much love,
    Jeanne Elizardi
    New Orleans

  • Pamela RG says:

    Such a wonderful post . You captured the beauty and emotions of your day through your words. It is great to have a productive, magical and joyful day just like that. It makes one to look up in the skies, into heaven, to Thank God! Thank you Vicki for sharing.

  • Katherine says:

    There are some things in life that cannot be bought and can only be wrapped with a veil of our love around them. Your yesterday is exactly that!

  • Goldie says:

    Written so beautifully, it brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing your appreciation for the beauty of natures bounty.

  • Elaine says:

    You have successfully transported me, if only for a few moments, to my beloved Provence! That is my favorite olive mill as well and I can picture the scenery en route. When I left a month ago, the vineyards weren’t quite as colorful. But I could ride along with you and every one of my senses was alert. I could smell the smoky air, taste the luscious lunch and even the yet-to-be-made olive oil, see the passing scenery, hear the calming silence, and feel the steering wheel beneath my fingers. Thank you for bringing Provençal wonder to my day!

  • This was indeed a perfect story for this Thanksgiving morning! Beautiful description of your country side! I love the camaraderie that you and your friend shared…there truly is nothing like it! The recipe sounds incredible! I will give it a try for sure!

  • Karena says:

    This day sounds so delightful Work and play and relaxation with a friend!

    A memory to be cherished..

    xoxo
    Karena
    Giveaway from Scalamandre!

  • Lisa thomson says:

    Beautiful post! I felt as though I was riding along with you, Vicki. It’s wonderful to have friends who also appreciate the small moments of beauty in life :)

  • annette says:

    Beautiful :)

  • And I am extremely grateful for your wonderful blog and your apparent continuing tireless energy to maintain it. Your writing is wonderful – it flows so easily from the page – and I love your images. Thank you for the pleasure and inspiration it has given me. Warm wishes from Melbourne.

  • Lorrie says:

    Ces mots charmants me remplissent de plaisir et l’envie d’être encore en France. Merci pour avoir recréer un moment plein de satisfaction.

  • Beautiful moments in time just sneak up on you…xxx

  • Mary says:

    I recall similar days in the Languedoc where my family live. In Autumn 2008 we were there for the grape and olive harvests………..the fields were so beautiful in their brilliant Fall colors.

    Thanks for the memories – I know exactly why you were “totally in awe of your surroundings”.

    Hugs – Mary

  • Vicki Ford says:

    HI there,

    boy, am I with you in heart, mind and spirit when I read this blog! I live in Brisbane but grew up in the country and relish the stories of people’s experience in rural areas of all continents. In fact, yes, your blog today has bought tears to my eyes.
    My dear…I think it’s time for you to do another book.

    I still enjoy immensely your first publication My French Life. During very hard times, I would take this book, which is usually somewhere close to my bible, and fall into the photos of family and friends experiencing joy, peace, togetherness. It brings me calm and happiness, as did your blog today. How I long to do a interior retail commission, like a French teahouse (!) and use wall size photos from the book such as Loulou from the village and Christine preparing summer lunch. Adrienne and Bill at the table by the fire after walking in the mistral. How I love the picture of the two beautiful older french ladies, one with the doe like eyes and cherry wool jacket, sitting down to tea with contentment upon their faces. They remind me of my grandmother, who I loved and thought beautiful till the day she left us.
    Yeah Vic, come on (laughter this end), ring up Carla, do it all over again!!Give us more!! (laughter, tears and joy this end)

    God bless.

  • It all sounds beautiful, Vicki. And thank you for the simple yet tasty recipe ~ always good to have!! Bon weekend…

  • Naja says:

    A beautiful post!
    I have a short question though (its answer WILL make a big difference): what is a pouissin? I looked it up in an e-dictionnary, but nothing came up. Can you translate it for us non French gals? Thank you, Vicky!!!

    • Vicki says:

      A poussin is a young chicken… :) And if you received this post by email… I spelt it incorrectly… so you could not have translated it anyway… silly me… since corrected on the site, but too late for you lovely readers who subscribe! Note to self.. practice spelling…;)

      • Naja says:

        Thank you anyway. The recipe is lllllovely! And this was a chance (and a great pleasure) to “chat” with you! Happy Provence days!

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