May 29, 2007 - On Rue Tatin

It's been raining for two days straight and combined with the fact that it was Sunday and a religious holiday on Monday, we haven't seen anyone in the town. This morning the sun came out and the stores are open which makes for an entirely different town.

Cooking lesson #2 started a little later today since we had a late night, and began with a review of the fish local to the Normandy region. I learned how to remove the pin bones from a delicate fish - my second learning of the week.
We made lunch for ourselves plus two paying guests who were coming just for lunch and the menu included:

New garlic soup (with whipped egg whites on top to make it frothy)
Mackerel with radishes and spring baby carrots (I didn't care for the strong taste of the mackerel)
Green salad with almond oil vinaigrette (do you see the pattern here?) and French bread
Fromages
Chocolate pots de creme (smooth and creamy - like chocolate pudding only better!)

Susan demonstrated how to make homemade marshmallows which was very cool, and I might have to try this at home (even though they are a bit addictive).

I popped over to the art exhibit in Acquigny before dinner and bought this mixed media painting of an artichoke flower from the artist who is 84 years old! Susan says he has lived with his partner for 30 years but never came out of the closet - sad...

For dinner we went to an Algerian restaurant in Acquigny owned by a friend of Susan's because she wanted us to understand the African influence on food and politics in France. She explained that the French seem to hate the Algerian people as a group, but love them as individuals, and African food is fundamental to the changing French cuisine.

Dinner included:

Salad - cold dishes, largely unidentifiable, but seeming like hummus and eggplant and tomato dishes all meant to be eaten with the thick flat bread
Lamb shanks that fell off the bone in a mild curry sauce served with stewed prunes and Marcona almonds - this could be the reason alone to discover Algerian cuisine!
Algerian pastries for dessert (plus the marshmallows we had snuck in!)

Algerian wines were served an my recommendation is that you not rush out to buy them just let - they are still working out the kinks in making wines on par with other regions.

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