11 December 2007

Food, partly

Before I talk about food, answering a question posed by Susan in a comment, I want to say this about the bidet: Claude said she had the bidet removed from her salle de bains because, basically, it was a waste of space. I can understand that.

Ours is too, in practical terms. It's just another bathroom fixture you have to wipe and scrub down to keep it clean, and the only thing it ever gets used for is washing out a pair of socks or drawers. (TMI?) But our bathroom is big, so we don't particularly need the space the bidet takes up.

Our plumber, Monsieur Rougemont, advised us to have it taken out. He also advised us to have the bathtub taken out when we had a nice new shower stall put in. We never officially use the bathtub either, though it is a good place to set big potted plants when you want to wash the dust off their leaves. Sometimes the plants stand there in the bathtub for days or weeks on end. They get good afternoon light through the bathroom window, and they are not in anyone's way.

Rip this out?

Now I think Rougemont is a good man, and I know from experience that he is an excellent plumber. But taking out the bidet and the bathtub would be money in his pocket and money out of mine. In California, real estate people told us it would be really hard to sell a house that didn't have a bathtub in at least one bathroom. I don't know if that applies here in France.

I think French people (plumbers, anyway) might have gotten over-enthusiastic in the modernization of the country's bathrooms. Back when, it was a luxury to have a bathtub. As Marie-Antoinette might have said, "The people don't have bathtubs? Let them take showers!"

As for the bidet, we are keeping it for old times' sake. It's one more thing that reminds us every day that we really are in France. I've seen bidets in American bathrooms, but there aren't many (unless they are putting them in all the McMansions being built pretty much everywhere now).

By the way, it was five years ago yesterday that we first laid eyes on the house we live in now. We knew it would be a good house for us from the moment we saw it. It is. Five years!

Oh, food. Well, what was for lunch yesterday was pizza. Walt made the crust using Evelyn's bread dough recipe, which includes a little bit of honey and a little bit of sugar along with flour, yeast, salt, and a little olive oil. He said the dough was just beautiful, and he let it rise overnight in the refrigerator before making the pizza the next day.

Pizza pie, 10 December 2007

I have to say it was very good pizza. The toppings were tomato puree, lardons, mushrooms, a sprinkle of dried thyme, and un bon peu de mozzarella cheese. The crust was puffy, light, and crispy. Another success.

Did I tell you about the quince trees? Our neighbors had — yes, had — three of them, and I made many quarts of delicious quince jelly two, three, and even four years ago. Most of that jelly is gone now, and there may well be no more.

One of the neighbors' quince trees just up and died. Another was looking puny, so the neighbors had it cut down. They kept, however, the big tree that produced the most fruit.

Le défunt cognassier de chez nos voisins

Now that one has expired. It blew over in a gust of wind. To my untrained eye, it looks to have had it. There was some talk of trying to save it, but I've seen no follow-through.

Alors, il n'y aura plus de coings dans le coin. En matière de confiture, ce sera de la gelée de pommes pour notre pomme.


  1. No more quince - don't worry, we are only on the opposite bank of the Cher River and have more quince than we know what to do with. Next year just say the word and I'll be there with quince by the barrow-load! By the way I made Walt's quince liquer this year for the first time but I'm not sure if it's going to be a success.

  2. Hello Carol, have you tried the quince ratafia yet? We tried the batch Walt made and we think it's very good. Our English friend Janet agrees. Good luck, and I will take you up on that offer of some of your quince surplus next fall. Ken

  3. Ken you are most welcome to the quince next year. I'm worried about the quince liquer because when I strained it through muslin and bottled it, I was surprised that it was not clearer - how should it look? Mine is rather cloudy.

  4. L'ENDROIT SECRET is now known worldwide...well, at least in "La Belle Province" (Québec, Canada). It was so humourous. I told all family and friends to read the article. We inherited all the peculiarities of growing up French. It can be frustrating! The Pizza is tantalizing...Hi! from Claudia

  5. My grandmother used quince jelly when anyone at home had... diarrhea!
    I never knew if quince was actually efficient in that respect or if it was just family lore. Do they say the same in the States?
    Removing the bath, I think, would be a mistake. I never use mine either, I much prefer the shower, but bathtubs can come in handy. You never know. Bidets, on the other hand... :))
    Claude from Blogging in Paris

  6. Claude, I don't think anybody in the States knows what quince is. It's a European thing, I think.

    Here's what one web site says: Les fibres du coing font baisser le taux de cholestérol et l'index glycémique. Certains chercheurs pensent aussi que ces mêmes fibres diminueraient le risque de cancer du côlon et du système digestif.

    That site and others also describe quince jelly as a remedy to treat diarrhea, but that's new to me. I think apples and apple jelly have the same effect.

    Carol, Walt strained the last liqueur de coings he made through four thicknesses of cloth to make it clearer. But if you let it sit for a while, the clarity improves as the fiber of the coings settles to the bottom of the bottle.

  7. Hi Ken, just so you know that quince is known in the U.S., at least when I was growing up in California, we often had quince jelly. It was (and is) one of my favorites.

    That pizza looks yummy!!


  8. We know about quince in Alabama at least the thorny flowering quince bushes that are fun to force into bloom in January.

    I never thought about using my dough for pizza- it made a nice thick crust like our Greek pizza parlor makes. I'll have to try it sometime since this is the sort of crust Lewis likes.

    I vote for keeping your bathroom like it is...perfect.

  9. We definitely know what quince is in California. A friend in Walnut Creek is working to perfect her quince jelly recipe and technique with an eye toward winning a ribbon at the county fair. Lucky us, we get our pick of her also-rans.

  10. My grandmother from central Illinois had quince jelly in her cupboard and I am sure the tree was on her farm. She also grew gooseberrys and in the yard there was a long arbor for grapes. I agree with Evelyn, don't change your bathroom.

  11. Who knew? Bathrooms and quinces would elicit so many responses? I have neither quinces nor bidets. But, for the record, my parents' condo in Chicago came with a bidet... which they removed when they remodeled.

  12. My grandmother used to make quince paste. It was like soft candy. You could cut it with a knife. It was delicious. Unfortunately, I have no idea how she did it.

  13. CHM, I made quince paste. It's a by-product of jelly-making. Pâte de coings, non ? Ou d'autres fruits. It was very good.


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