29 November 2021

Rouen : la rue Malpalu

The street called la rue Malpalu in Rouen is lined with a dozen or so impressive maisons à pans de bois. It's in the Saint-Maclou neighborhood — the area was a marsh until medieval times, when it was drained and houses were built. The lower part of the street, closer to the Seine, was lost to a fire in 1940. Continuing past the Église Saint-Maclou, you can walk along the rue Damiette, also lined with maisons à pans de bois, as well as with antique shops.

28 November 2021

Snow then, ice now

When I came to France in late January 2003, this was the weather I had to deal with.
My friend Jeanine lived on this street, le boulevard des Belges, in Rouen.
Here's what the weather was like on February 1.

By the way, this is what the Vélux skylight windows in our loft looked like late yesterday afternoon. Rain and sleet showers were blowing through. The ice on the window melted away pretty fast, but it was cold outside. Weather reports note that the first snow of the winter has arrived a month early in France.

27 November 2021

Rouen : rue Martainville

February in Rouen, on the rue Martainville right next to the Église Saint-Maclou. The sun came out.

26 November 2021

Le Gigot Show

CHM said in a comment that he wanted to see this Thanksgiving's gigot d'agneau (leg of lamb), so here it is. It's what Walt and I eat at Thanksgiving. Why? Because here in the French countryside it's not easy to find whole fresh or frozen turkeys except at Christmastime. You can special-order one, but that's a lot of trouble. We cook leg of lamb just once a year...

This gigot weighed 2.75 kilograms — about six pounds. We roasted it in our new oven. As side dishes, we had the traditional French lamb accompaniment, which is flagelot beans. We also steamed some Jerusalem artichokes (topinambours). With some good local bread and a bottle of Touraine primeur red wine, it made for a pretty good holiday dinner. And then we had pumpkin pie that Walt made from scratch...

25 November 2021

Thanksgiving Day, 2021

Thanks to all of you who read and comment on this blog.

This is the Place de la Cathédrale in Rouen, late one afternoon in February.

24 November 2021

A vélo dans Rouen

If you want to ride a bicycle in Rouen, you have to expect to get wet. The normal annual rainfall in the city is about 850 millimeters (nearly 34 inches) and rain falls 135 days per year (according to this newspaper article). It's usually a light rain, what we call une pluie fine or de la bruine (drizzle). One of the first things I was told when I went to work there was that it didn't really rain much in Rouen, but it rained just about all the time — especially in winter. The city's nickname is "the chamber pot of Normandy." A chamber pot in French is un pot de chambre.

For comparison, in my home town on the North Carolina coast the average annual rainfall is 57 inches. Over there, when it rains it pours, but there are fewer rainy days than in Rouen. In Paris, San Francisco, and Saint-Aignan the yearly average is 25 inches a year.

By the way, if you're wondering about the meaning of the word stoppage, which you see on a storefront in the photo above, it's the name for what in English is called "invisible mending" or "reweaving" or even "French weaving". The verb is stopper. This web page describes reweaving as "an old-world skill of intricate hand weaving" to repair a hole, cut, rip, or tear in a piece of fabric. It's almost unknown in the U.S.

23 November 2021

A very slow slideshow

Think of this weeks blog posts as a very slow slideshow. One photo a day. No scrolling and not much reading.

22 November 2021

Rouen — a different view

Rouen is not just a city of museums and churches, it's also a big port city — the fifth busiest in France. Ocean-going ships can navigate the Seine all the way to Rouen, which is a distance of 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) on the meandering river. This is a photo looking upriver toward Paris.

21 November 2021

Une terrine de campagne

A terrine is a terra cotta, faïence, or earthenware baking dish. By a figure of speech called "metonymy" the terrine is also the food baked in such a dish. So pâté and terrine are synonyms on one level. The day before yesterday I made a terrine de campagne, which is pâté de campagne baked in a terrine. You can see it in the photos in this post. This is a very simple recipe and doesn't contain anything like liver or tongue or any other animal organs. That might make it more appealing to people who don't relish the idea of eating organ meat (sometime called "variety meats" in America and known as "offal" in other countries).

The meat in this terrine is a mixture of pork and turkey. Or maybe it was veal. I'm not sure because I had two meat patties in the freezer that we had planned to eat on buns as hamburgers. I really don't remember whether they were ground turkey or ground veal. They weighed about 300 grams (10 oz.). I combined them with 700 grams (25 oz.) of pork tenderloin (all weights are approximate), most of which I also ran through the meat grinder, except for a small portion that I just cut into little cubes and mixed in with the ground ("minced") meats. I could have put in cubes of chicken, turkey, or veal but I used the pork tenderloin (called filet mignon in French) instead. I also added in some pecans (pistachios or walnuts would be good).

What binds this kind of "meat loaf" together is egg — in this case three eggs, beaten. What gives it good flavor is onion, garlic, herbs (thyme, parsley, bay leaves, etc.), spices (cloves, nutmeg, etc.) wine (or cognac, or whiskey), salt, and pepper. If the mixture seems a little bit too liquid, you can add some bread crumbs to it. I did add some. I didn't take any photos while I was putting the pain de viande mixture together (pain means "bread" but also means "loaf").

As with meat loaf, you can eat it hot (with gravy or tomato sauce), warm, or cold (in a sandwich). Cut into cubes, it could replace meatballs in spaghetti sauce. We just ate it for lunch with a salad, good bread, and some pickled gherkins (cornichons). I think the next time I make this kind of terrine I'll add some chicken or duck liver to the mixture for texture... Here's a link to a recipe in French.

20 November 2021

One Rouen photo a day?

I think I'll treat Rouen in "one photo a day" mode for a while. I guess I'm tired of futzing with the Blogger authoring tool's failures and idiosyncracies. I just want to keep it simple. I hope it doesn't get too boring. A lot of the pictures I want to post were taken during that snowy spell in February 2003 when Walt and were getting ready to sell our San Francisco house and buy the house in the Loire Valley. I was in Rouen on my way to Saint-Aignan.

This morning I'm getting ready to take my terrine or pâté de campagne out of the refrigerator. I'll take some pictures of it, and then we'll have some of it for lunch with cornichons, pain complet, and a salade verte — that's pickled gherkins, whole-wheat bread, and a lettuce salad with vinaigrette. The pâté recipe is very simple. I hope it's good. More about it tomorrow.