A Taste of Garlic

France and the Unknown - Midi-Pyrénées

midi pyrenees  France and the Unknown   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceIt was with a bit of trepidation that I approached France and the Unknown.

You see, I’ve never been shy about my eating habits; basically… if it moves, I’ll eat it; if it recently moved but is a bit still now, I’ll still eat it and even if it was always a bit non-moving, I’ll probably eat it anyway!  Apart, that is, from fish fingers!  I do not, under any circumstances, eat fish fingers!

And I have been known to enjoy the odd glass of wine (and some of the glasses of wine that I’ve drunk, purely in the purposes of research, you understand, have been pretty damn odd!)  and the occasional Ricard!

Frances Penwill-Cook, on the other hand describes herself as… “I’m a teetotal, vegan girl (apart from eating my own chickens’ eggs)” – would we get on?

Well, I thought the best thing would be to steer clear of slippery ground (can you tell what’s coming?) and stick (if that’s an appropriate word) to posts about dog poo!

Of which this blog has a few!

In order to save you from having to read them all, I’ve selected Dog poo protests to clean up streets as a fairly typical example.  Interesting to note that… “Some sources state that 16 tonnes of dog poo are removed in Paris each day, which only makes up 20% of the actual daily amount.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Moving swiftly on…. I decided to take a look at Public loo inconveniences and was so glad I had.  It’s posts like this that make it worth living!  I do have to admit to thinking about Peregrinations when I read that!

Then I stumbled down Our little, nameless French road and its brilliance and then visited the Armistice service in the village.

It’s interesting reading through this blog from start to finish and watching how the writer changes during the process.  Somewhere along the line there is a move From champagne to tracksuit bottoms.

I think that the real turning point of the blog comes in November 2009 when Frances asks… “Will I go vegan in rural France?”

Frances and I do have something in common (foodwise, that is), we are both not McDonalds fans.  Read McDonald’s or McHell in France to find out why.   Personbally, I haven’t eaten McDo since December 1995 – because a member of staff was rude to me!  You should see how stubborn I can be when someone kicks me in the goolies!

The process of turning Vegan (apart from her own chicken eggs) is documented and rationalised brilliantly.

It might surprise Frances (and other vegans) that even an outrageous carnivore like me (all that… if it moves, I’ll eat it stuff that I won’t bore you with again) cares about animal welfare -I just like eating the things once they’ve had a good life!

Posts like For Vegan’s Sake show the ecological aspects of not meat eating.  Then there’s Being a Vegetarian in France to get you thinking.

Not eating meat must have a humanising effect as Frances soon turns to animal rescue.  Rabbit rescue in France leads to quite a sad post called Time for Bunny heaven.  Now I love eating rabbit (especially wild rabbit – rabbit that runs and lives free does taste better!) but I felt sorry for poor Moonlight and poor Sunlight, who just didn’t want to live any longer without her friend.

If you’re not interested in becoming vegan (or vegetarian, even), don’t let that stop you reading this blog.  The first 100 posts are about Frances’ new life in France; the remaining 40 posts touch on food ethics and animal rescue.

Hey, if I (the original  “pass me another andouilette sandwich and a pig’s trotter to chew upon”) can enjoy this blog, then I’m sure you can.

Ready to dive right in? Why not start by taking a look at My Paddock Paradise – that Olga does look a right Breton Mare, doesn’t she!

And me?  Well, I’m going back to take a look at my second favourite post on this blog (the getting hands stuck down toilets post has got to be my favourite!),  Beautiful horses on the valley and chicken.

All the best

midi pyrenees  France and the Unknown   because we all love reading blogs about life in France


  • By Frances, May 2, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

    Dear Keith,
    Thank you very much for reviewing my blog and including it on your excellent Taste of Garlic. I’m very pleased that you weren’t put off by me being a vegan (apart from eating my chickens’ eggs – :D) – it’s interesting how differently people perceive me now compared with my drinking, meat-eating days (which were still in full swing even last year) and it’s strange, but understandable, that you’d approach with ‘trepidation’.

    Moving from city to countryside has been a real journey, my close friends cannot believe how much I’ve changed (and yet they say I’m still the same – I think all of us had the opinion we probably could never be friends with a vegan non-drinker – yet here I am being one…very odd) and I’m still getting used to it myself…this girl who loved sausages and wine now on an alcohol-free plant-based diet!! But I’m starting to understand how what I put in my body affects how I feel inside and look on the outside, so I am feeling well for the change.

    I’m very honoured that you read so much of my blog to notice turning points – I don’t really read my blog back so it’s fascinating to hear thoughts on that from your point of view.

    Lastly, thank you for recommending it and saying that you enjoyed it. That really means such a lot and I’m very pleased with such a positive summary.

    Thank you and I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

  • By Keith Eckstein, May 2, 2010 @ 4:45 pm


    Although I am a raving carnivore, I do have to say that…. moving from the city (London) to rural Brittany, I did discover that the food that we eat does come from real animals and that the better the life of those animals, the better the taste of their flesh.

    So, purely for absolutely selfish reasons, I want the animals that I eat to have the bestest possible life ever – just so that, when their life does come to an end, they taste as good a they possibly can.

    I did enjoy reading your blog and it did make me think – good luck with your projects and I hope that you’ve had as weekend as I have.

    All the best


  • By Ange, May 2, 2010 @ 11:50 pm

    Keith you do have that enviable art of inspiring people to read. I’m dying to read Frances’ blog now. She is entirely motivating due to the very fact that she has become VEGAN in RURAL FRANCE. If ever there was an animal protein based country – this is IT! Now, spill the secret – why don’t you eat Fish Fingers?
    In the mean time – I couldn’t resisit tagging you on my blog. I promise that it’s a time saving tag and quite an interesting one. A way to get your blog re-read shall we say…
    No obligation of course – I just love reading you that’s all 😉

  • By Keith Eckstein, May 3, 2010 @ 5:37 pm


    The Fish Finger thing? It’s all to do with sustained and psychologically damaging child abuse that I suffered for about a month (when I was ten years old) at the hands of a kindly but gastronomically challenged neighbour whilst my mum was in hospital.

    It’s funny; I can eat all manner of offal; snails, baby octopuses and whelks hold no fear for me (I love them!) and I’ll happily eat raw fish but…. show me a fish finger and I start feeling faint! I even avoid the frozen ready meal aisle in the supermarket just to avoid having a turn and making a scene!

    Thanks for tagging me (I think); I’m not really sure what that means but I’ll try to work it out!

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