I was amused recently to discover that we have apparently joined the ranks of the 'chic'. Here we were, moored beside a pretty village in Franche Compte enjoying a very late and pretty ordinary ( or so I thought) lunch of bread and cheese and a glass of the local white. We were both reading the day's English newspaper which had been magically delivered to our Kindles via Whispernet. (Yes, I know it's not chic to read at the table but we're about to more than make up for that).
He was still on the front pages which were filled with stories of rioting and looting in English cities whilst I, having had enough of that depressing news, had flicked to the magazine section and promptly choked on my crusty baguette necessitating a gulp of wine before I could read on.
Me. 'What do you think of the fromage?'
Him, barely looking up. 'You mean the cheese? S'okay. Prefer the blue though.'
Me. 'No, it's not just 'cheese'. It's Compte and it's referred to as fromage even when you're speaking English. And I think by 'the blue' you really mean Roquefort.'
He's looking at me now. 'What are you talking about?' (expletive omitted)
So, I had to explain that according to this article, the 'fromage' (as it was called throughout) we were eating with insufficient appreciation is the latest 'must have' on the fromage plattters of the 'chicest' dinner parties in England. You will, apparently, be unlikey to find it in your local supermarket so it needs to be 'sourced' from farmers markets. Not only that, if you haven't already bored your guests quite to death with your wine knowledge you can finish them off by describing the cheese in similar detail. Apparently, like wine, cheese has hints of this and notes of that. I can't remember what they were in this case but perhaps they were hints of meadowsweet and buttercup and notes of cowbell.
Me. 'The fromage is best enjoyed with a glass of this Jura wine apparently.' I'd bought the wine at the only shop in the village - the baker. Or, as we fromage-y people say - the boulangerie.
Him. 'I'd sooner have a cold beer. But then, that would be a ploughman's lunch and I suppose that's not chic'.
And we both went back to reading the front pages about the hoodies sourcing doughnuts, crisps and cider from Tesco Express to enjoy whilst watching themselves on previously sourced flatscreen tvs.
|Cows with Bells. Franche Compte fromage producers.|
|-and a rather curious young one watching us in a lock|
We have now left the mountains and spectacular scenery of Franche Compte and are once again in Burgundy. One thing I won't miss is the sound of churchbells. Every village is clustered around a pretty church with the distinctively shaped and attractively tiled clock/bell tower of the region. The bell chimes the hour as you would expect. Often twice, after a pause of a couple of minutes, just in case you missed it the first time. They also chime the quarter hour - once for the first quarter, twice for the second and three times for the third. Again they often do this twice, in case you missed it the first time. Now, during the day this is fine. Should you feel the pressing need to know the time to the nearest quarter of an hour you don't need a watch but during the night it is enough to drive you to insanity. The locals seem sane so either they're used to it, have triple glazing or sleep with earplugs. Actually I think they just like bells. Even the cows wear them (notes of cowbell).
|Typical Franche Compte Churches|
|Stuck in a stop lock|
Our Scottish guests kindly took the rain away with them and we are back to scorching days. We have decided to book our boat into the marina here in St Jean de Losne for the winter which is a load off our minds. So now we can relax even more and enjoy our last 6 weeks.