France – The “Poulet en Croûte” lady

 Peach Orchard

I recall a day during our first Mediterranean holiday. It was hot, as were all days on that holiday. We left our tent on the campsite at Port Grimaud on our included bicycles early to avoid the intense heat of the mid-day sun. We had previously learnt that a cycle ride a few miles inland saw the price of a really good meal tumble. But on that day our only interest was in a little gentle exploring. We set out for the original old hilltop village of Grimaud, a complete contrast to and a far cry from the Port bearing the same name. We arrived and wandered round the dusty, sun baked village enjoying its timeless charm. We stopped at the open top half of a stable style door to watch in awe. Inside, on a large white scrubbed table, an old lady was stuffing chickens she had previously boned and then with consummate skill was enfolding them in pastry with the neatness that only comes with years of experience. The finished product a work of art was the specialty advertised at the front of the restaurant “Poulet en Croûte”.

In a cool courtyard we treated ourselves to a glass of chilled white wine and a salad Nicoise apiece served with crusty French bread. Thus replete we collected a baguette, some pate and cheese and set off to find an impromptu picnic spot. Halfway between the hilltop village and the coast we stopped at a small fruit farm and vineyard and bought a carafe of red wine and having sought permission settled down beneath a peach tree in the perfume-laden orchard. There we feasted on our picnic, quaffed rough red wine and had a dessert of peaches plucked straight from the tree above us. My Gina and I dozed away the heat of the day listening to the trim-phone trills of an army of cicadas. Another day of simple pleasures among the many such days of a memorable holiday.