In search of wild asparagus . . .

But for a few staples, my friend Rebecca could live entirely off the land. What vegetables and fruit she and her husband, David, a winemaker in St. Saturnin,  don’t grow themselves, they gather.  In the past when their kids, now teenagers, were small, Rebecca says they kept chickens and ducks but killing them for the table proved difficult.  Still trips to the market are infrequent. They keep bees, forage for morels. David fishes for trout.

Rebecca set me straight on curing olives–you don’t have to use lye, as I’d thought, salt works fine.  Back in the fall when the olives were ripe, and inspired by the rows of olives on her pantry shelf, I put up a few jars.  I probably wouldn’t offer them to guests, but they weren’t bad.  And, as she pointed out, they’d probably make good tapenade.

This morning we went looking for wild asparagus.  She’d already collected loads of it when the weather turned warm–eaten it raw, cooked it up in risotto and omelettes.  Beautiful sunny day today, clouds of pink almond blossom, wild orchids–which I thought looked a  lot like hyacinth–and small blue grape hyacynth. A couple of men were pruning the olive trees–a properly trimmed tree should have a sort of bowl like shape in the middle that a bird could fly through, Rebecca said.

Wild asparagus tends to grow around the base of the olives. We climbed out of the truck, wound our way along the groves. The wild version has little in common–either in appearance or taste–with the cultivated kind in the intermarché. It took me a while to spot the slender green stalks, but we each ended up with a respectable bunch.

Asparagus hunting being thirsty work, we ended up at a cafe in St. Jean de fos where pastis seemed like a perfect summertime drink.

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10 March–Facebook entry
Fabulous weekend with summertime weather–70’s, blue skies. Saturday, an outdoor table at La Nymph in Bouzigues, a waterside village known for its oysters.( Marilla Magill Margo McCall, Randal Brumbaugh, Barbara Lott will all remember visits earlier this year, it’s one of my favorite places. ) White wine and moules farcies–mussels stuffed with sausage. Lovely. Sunday, drove to Albi to visit the Toulouse Lautrec museum. Albi is a World Heritage site, with history dating back to Roman times and the absolutely amazing terra cotta brick cathedral, Saint-Cecile, and Palais de la Berbie. Lots of enticing outdoor cafés too. Once again I’m attempting to whet the appetite of prospective US visitors. . . Kristine Rose-Walsh more Cathar history.

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