Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meals with a magician

Munson and the mummers

I was intending to drive on down to Brent & Jean’s place, which is a couple of hours’ south of here, but there was no particular rush this week, and Peter had started lining up some social events for me. And you know he does have that cooking thing going. Lunch was melon and ham, and left over guinea fowl in raspberry sauce which is just as good cold as fresh from the oven. Munson hung around the table with little malactites of drool until he got his plate of leftover ham, fowl and cheese rinds. He is so polite and intent sitting next to the table, I think he’s a kind of canine Pinocchio, waiting to be turned into a real boy so he can sit at the table and not dribble on his paws (even if they are in the third position).

It was market day in Condom, and we trailed Peter through various produce stalls, helping him pick out a turbot for tonight’s dinner. Now I must confess that I have wanted to try turbot since I was a child, for one reason and that is I first read of this fish in JBS Haldane’s book My Friend Mr Leakey*.  If you follow the link, you can read how Mr Leakey’s octopus servant Oliver cooks a turbot with the assistance of a small pet dragon Pompey.

'Of course,' said Mr Leakey, 'how stupid of me. I have so few guests here except professional colleagues that 1 forgot you were a layman. By the way,' he went on, as he poured sauce out of his hat over the fish, 'I don't know if you've noticed anything queer about this dinner. Of course some people are more observant than others.'

So that explains dinner.

 La boîte a jouer #1 La boîte a jouer #2

After our market excursion, we stopped at the Café des Sports for coffee, with Munson hanging precariously out from under the table while cars came too fast up the narrow alley beside us. A group of costumed singers planted themselves in front of the cafe to advertise a production based on the work of Molière the following night. The photo at top shows Munson’s reaction. I’m not sure whether this means we shouldn’t book a seat for him.


During the afternoon we drove out to the fortified medieval village – or bastide -  of Larressingle where the production would be staged. It was really busy with visitors so we didn’t stay long. Munson had more firsts today in visiting a castle and crossing a moat.  

13 photo stitch medieval tetris P1020107-115_stitch

Peter, Munson and creme fraiche

Did I mention the strawberries (in raspberry vinegar and sugar) with creme fraiche for dessert?

my winning set

Through the evening Peter and I played a couple of rounds of what he terms the word game which he taught me a few years ago in London. It requires a bag with two sets of Scrabble tiles from which players draw tiles and attempt to create sets of words, either directly from a pool of unused tiles or by stealing words from your opponent(s) and reusing the letters to make larger words. The first game was a lot of fun as one word was taken and retaken, growing from lend to nestled to enlisted to glistened. The second game was even more fun because I won.

This fine day was crowned with two bits of good news. The major one being that the farm that Brent and Jean bid for several months ago was finally approved by the local land agency ( move in date still TBD ). The minor news was I got through to my auto insurer in Australia for a document to present my (zero) claims history to the local insurer. Since I’ve moved car insurance from Australia – USA – Australia – UK – Australia in the last 12 years, pulling together a full history would be no mean feat. Both sets of news will make me sleep even more soundly than today’s fine meals might have guaranteed.

*I originally encountered Mr Leakey’s turbot in an excerpt called A Meal with a Magician in a children’s treasury, but I quickly located the full Puffin paperback edition illustrated by Quentin Blake. The book was originally written in 1937 (yes Peter M, I do have a copy of this first version now), the only children’s fiction produced by this great scientist. If you can lay your hands on a bio of Haldane it will amaze and inspire you.


  1. Anita2:00 pm

    Oh, it all looks so beautiful! It's freezing and raining here in Sydney. Wish I was there.

  2. Looks like you two are having a fabulous time so far! I love all the pics. And, Munson is sure being spoiled with all the yummy food!

    Holly and Khady


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