Spring Clean

I saw this on Facebook the other day, the virtues of dandelions are not exactly a revelation around here. They are a vital part of the end of winter detox, after a winter of meats preserved in fat and a lack of fresh vegetables.

people are out and about as soon as the dandelions or “pissenlits” (literally wet-the-beds) raise their heads above the ground. The tannic bitterness of the leaves in a salad certainly feel like they’re cutting through the winter fat lining your arteries, although the traditional addition of lardons or preserved gizzards does seem a bit counter-intuitive!

Now research is showing that years of tradition does have factual backing, dandelions are a rich source of beta-carotene and polyphenolic compounds, both of which are known to have strong antioxidant effects.
And some tests now seem to be showing they have anti cholesterol properties as well as protecting the liver tissue from toxic substances and oxidative stress. Music to the ears of the people of the South West of France who at times seem to be a little obsessed with their livers.

Another bitter “vegetable” which is very popular is respounchous/répounchous, (i’ve seen other spellings) which are the bitter shoots of ” tamis commun ” a plant usually considered poisonous in Britain.

You can see people of all ages, sometimes several generations at once, clambering around in the hedgerows to pick the shoots to make a salad or an omelette. So lovely to see the tradition being preserved.

“Tanous” another word from the local patois are the shoots of over wintered bolted brassicas. In keeping with the local attitude to food, nothing is wasted and these are gathered into bunches and sold by smallholders at local markets. These are also blanched and served as a salad. I love them “tiede” with an olive oil and lemon dressing although that is certainly not traditional! What! No hard boiled eggs, no lardons!

First day of Spring

It’s the first day of spring and as the sun shines, the mood improves and I finally feel motivated to take a stroll.


Starting at the Chapelle I head down to let the chickens out and realise that the frost is still clinging on in shady corners

The violets are edged with frost.

But as I continue along the path out onto the open the sun is warmer and the spirits lift.

The birds seem to be out in force too. They flit from tree to tree and a hawk skims across the field.

As I complete my circuit and head back towards the village I see other people brought out by the sun and discuss the merits of a morning stroll in the sun.

Back towards Portail Bas. The road is edged by trees in blossom.

Back at the house my cat waits patiently .

16th January St Maur’s

S’il gèle à la Saint-Maur, – La moitié de l’hiver est dehors.

According to the old saying if there is frost on St Maur’s day than winter is half way over. Well yesterday dawned with the most incredible thick white frost and blue skies and as the sun melted the ice, it produced a ground mist worthy of any artist. Unfortunately …….the practicalities of life meant that whilst I marveled at the sight from the car I didn’t get a photo! Isn’t it always the way!

Today though had it’s moments, the frost was still hiding in some of the shady corners, and the sun still shone, the sky was still a beautiful blue.

Very happy to see the sun in all it’s glory, here’s hoping though that as predicted by the dictum, this load of wood is the last we’ll need this winter!