It’s quite apt that I’m reviewing Slow Living in the French Pyrénées as I am in the process of reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse which is partly set in the same area.
Slow Living in the French Pyrénées is Kalba Meadows’ blog and she says of herself that she is… “a lover of life, food, wine, France, mountains, walking, wildlife, growing things, cooking, writing, people, laughter, dancing, singing, contemplation, authenticity; person-centred therapist, searcher, one time restaurateur. In 2007 I moved with my partner John to Grillou, in the foothills of the Pyrénées in Ariège. We’ve come here to live more slowly and more simply, to find time, space and balance, and to share this magical place from time to time with like-minded others.”
A bit of a change from me? I moved here for the charcuterie!
As Kalba says… You know that you’ve got an attack of bricoitis when… “The two of you pounce on the newly arrived Brico Depot catalogue and fight over who’s going to read it with their cornflakes.”
Ah, I seem to have successfully avoided that illness!
So, what about the Lingerie, 2CV and Mushrooming posts?
Well, I did dive into Getting Down and Dirty with an expectant smile on my face but… found that it wasn’t quite the sort of thing I was expecting!
I had no option but to use the mighty resources of Google to delve a bit deeper.
I was very surprised that, even with their 500,000 servers, Google couldn’t find any mention of the following words on this blog…. Lingerie, 2CV, Citroen, Hallyday, Johnny, Nude or Morris Dancing.
OK, I didn’t expect many result for that last search term but… nothing at all for the others?
Does this mean that those important subjects aren’t covered here? Whatever next?
Google did kindly point me to a post about Mushrooms (thank God for that!) – called The best laid plans.
I do have to admit to being a little bit confused when Kalba says that “Now there’s only so much fungus that two people can eat at any one time.”
No, Kalba, you’ve got it all wrong! There’s no limit – none at all!
And anyone telling you any different is lying and jealous and nasty and probably just making up for being serially abused in their childhood!
I do have to admit that I was happy to hear you say… “We haven’t, so far, done very well at finding any of the big names such as cepes or chanterelles or morilles or girolles nor sadly (and I say this at the risk of tarnishing my already somewhat ropey reputation) the more – er – magical varieties.”
Because…. that just means more for me!
Oops, one last thing… Google did turn up the steam pressure on their servers and suggest that I might want to do a little search on… Sun bed! Book! Beer! Swim!
Third from top out of 149,000 entries – I’m well impressed! Can I book my Sun bed now (I’ll bring the book; don’t skimp on the beer!)
Life in the Aiège? What’s that like then…..
Did you know that if you search Google for dummy-on-the-floor tantrum, this blog is in second place?
Now, that’s quite strange as tantrums are the sort of thing that you wouldn’t expect in this blog.
It’s more…. “Suddenly, and as if by magic, nature is responding to the onset of spring. Trees and shrubs are springing into bud. Yellow and purple crocuses and bright yellow narcissi are in flower all over the garden. It’s impossible to walk across the grass without treading on a carpet of sweet violets.” (From Signs of Spring) or…
In Magic in the Air Kalba warns us that…. “If you’re one of those people who despises so-called rose-tinted, fluffy blog posts (yes, you know who you are!), then look away now. Because in our lovely green Ariège the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the insects are buzzing, people are smiling, and wherever you go, even if it’s just to the builders’ merchants, you can’t help but feel a certain magic in the air.”
Well, good for you Kalba!
I’m just as sick as you of those depressing Life in France blog posts about gettting run over by a bunch of Lingerie wearing nuns in a Citroen 2CV who are too busy singing Que Je t’aime whilst on their way to a mega-mushrooming foray (having spent 3 weeks in the queue at Orange trying to get the internet back on line) to notice you diving into the road to avoid the steaming piles of dog plop that adorn the pavements these days!
They’re all getting a bit samey, those kind of blog posts, I find?
So, it’s a real pleasure to read positive and happy posts like Normal Life. It must be lovely to be able to say… “The sun is warm enough that you know you’re in the south of France, but not so hot that you can’t walk in it or work in it. Layers of clothes are shed, and legs see the light of day. Chilled rosé and ice cold beer take over from warming reds and hot chocolate.”
Up here in rural Brittany, we get to say something similar once every eight or ten years!
Any food around, then?
My life’s enduring passion (apart from 2CV spotting – I do love sitting by the side of the road or, preferably, by a good car park, pad in hand, hoping to see one of those examples of all that is best in France – Pig’s Trotters aside!), is food.
Thus, I did have to have a delve around in the cupboards to see if there was anything edible in this blog.
Happily, there is!
In Glut Guttony I found recipes for A courgette soup … “Actually, it’s not really a soup – more like a lightweight broth, in the Italian style, which means that with some good bread it’s good enough to eat for dinner and not as an entrée.”
And also, an aubergine tart! Which, as Kalba says… “is pure, unadulterated summer comfort food; it contains just about every one of my to-die-for summer ingredients – olives, aubergines, tomatoes, anchovies, basil, mozzarella.”
The only criticism that I do have is that Kalba insists on making sizing recipes for two people or for four portions… which, of course, is nowhere near enough for me!
In the… what did we bring back from Morocco (apart from a nasty case of runny tummy!) category we find Kalba using her tagine (hey, she might have got it from Super U rather than Marakesh!) to cook us a lovely Toast Aubergine and Chick Pea Tagine.
Once again, the recipe is only enough for four people but… as a starter or an amuse bouche that might be OK.
And, Kalba’s post about Courgettes R Us.. reminded me of my Courgette year (2006) when I’d go to work in the morning with my courgettes being the size of gerkins only to come home, mid-afternoon, to find that they were the size of Belgium (perhaps I exaggerate slightly?)
I think you really need to take some time to find out the answer to Why did the Iman faint?
Actually, I already know the answer, having eaten Imam Bayeldi (or something very similar) in Turkey but… I’m hungry and, so I might pop back and re-visit that post! Any excuse will do!
So, summing up…..
Slow Living in the French Pyrénées is a different blog. But, different in a very good way!
If you’ve been through (or are going through) a renovation project yourself, you’ll find much of interest here.
If you are interested in life in the South of France, in all its glory, you’ll love Kalba’s outlook on it all.
And, even if you’re just a greedy little monkey like me; you won’t go away hungry. I promise you that!
So come on, take a quick peek at Slow Living in the French Pyrénées. I don’t think Kalba will get you sanding floorboards but, you never know? You could always tell her you were more interested in that Sun bed! Book! Beer! Swim! stuff anyway!
And me? Well, I’m going for a What the Hell weekend in Luchon. That “extraordinary dinner of potiron soup, omelette aux girolles, organic trout from Lac Oô with almonds and seventeen thousand vegetables, including the best chips I’ve ever eaten (cooked in duck fat, apparently) and a crème caramel with a hint of wintergreen.” sounds like heaven and, at only 15 euros what can I say but…
“Garcon, bring me two!”
All the best