Authie et Mi

Why is swede so expensive in France ?

December 2011

The weather has been very up and down but so far it looks as though a white Christmas will not be on offer on the Somme this year. It has got cold but we have had some beautiful sunny days which have allowed me to dander off over the hill with the camera in search of things to photograph. I’ll soon have a collection of my routes throughout the year.

The betteraves (sugar beets) are lying about in their colossal mounds waiting for the trucks to come and take them away, leaving the roads filthy with mud and as dangerous as black ice.

The woods have now all but lost their leaves but for a few weeks at the end of November the colours around here were astounding and as they thinned out the trees let the light through and onto the covered roads and lanes.

Living this close to the coast means that both myself and the family get the chance to profit from the special offers on both sides of the sheugh. You wont find mince pies gracing the shelves of Carrefour or Auchan and there is little to no chance that you will find tresses of smoked garlic fumigating the veggies’ aisle in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose.

But in doing the shopping you cannot help but wonder as to why a cauliflower can cost twice the price in England and swede almost three times the price in France. I mean, swede, it’s an orange turnip and used to be part of the staple diet in the north of France – to the point where during the war it was all people had to eat and it is now shunned for being a reminder of hard times.

And yet reminiscent of the occupation, you can also buy floor sweepings ( and you don’t want to know from which barn ) beautifully packaged, marked as ‘dirt cheap’ coffee and sold to an unsuspecting public who think that because Granny is on the packet that it must be like she used to make it: and of course it is, because she went through the war living off of swede and floor sweepings.

No matter, the garlic was bought, more wine was bought, more chocolates were blended with booze and fruit, and then just to be on the safe side; more wine was bought.

I set off on Saturday morning, with a full moon lighting the coastal road and temperatures hovering just over the zero but no frost. An hour later I was in Kent with the fields a sparkly white and the temperature slowly gaining in warmth in that relative way in which the brain tells you : five degrees is much , much warmer than two; but even so you will want to benefit from wearing clothes and getting off the beach.

I did a wee bit of shopping in Sainsbury’s looking for festive beers (didn’t have any) boxes of biscuits (thankfully half price because you would need to be half cut to pay the full whack), mince pies and puddens for my French friends. I also took the opportunity of buying: swede.

Anton and Deb’s had decided that this was going to be our festive meal so mum and dad drove down and Hannah arrived whilst Alex headed to a work’s do in Brighton. Simon also had to head out and had been diligently cooking a nut roast in puff pastry to take with him as his share in the food stakes.

I can recommend Anton’s recipe for Brussel sprouts cooked with ginger and chilli. Even my mother liked them and she is notorious for having to be force fed Brussels. There was a rumour going around that we had Yorkshire puddings with the beef joint but Hannah assured us that this was not the case whilst politely belching and rubbing her stomach.

I had taken over a pistachio cream gateau but we decided that it would have to be left until later because we had Christmas pudding to come first. I can never understand how I put on weight each December when I keep getting all the exercise of lifting a fork or spoon to my mouth for hours on end. It has to be more strenuous than aerobics and a glass filled with red requires balance and dexterity – eat your heart out jugglers, you wont see me fumble the glass.

Sunday was bright and sunny for all of an hour before the rain arrived. The girls went shopping and the boys stayed at home and put the world to rights. We had a buffet lunch and before we knew it, it was time to start packing cars and thinking about heading down our respective motorways. I was lucky, I arrived early enough at the tunnel to catch a departure before my own and drove straight through and onto the train. Two hours later I was home again having battled with the wind and torrential rain coming down the coast.

Never mind, in less than a fortnight the days will start getting longer. Summer is just around the corner.

Posted : 12 December 2011

Travel, England