(chapter VII has also been updated with a steamy bit I failed to copy across earlier)
Goose Fat and Garlic
In the hills of southern France
She found the chance
For wild romance —
She joined the dance
xxxThe traveller Tredwell was not acquainted with the works of the poet Nugent. She wasn’t even sure that the poet Nugent existed. On the evidence of her book’s epigraph, she hoped not.
At first she adored
Les villes de Périgord
But the more she explored,
The more she felt bored
xxx“That’s at least as good. Or as bad,” she thought, as she scribbled her own ditty. “Elspeth Nugent, eat your heart out.”
xxxShe worried that she was probably being unfair on the southern French region. She’d never been to Périgord and wasn’t sure she could point it out on a map. She reckoned she was as close to it as she’d be getting on this trip, both geographically and gastronomically. But she had the idea it would be a rural, not to say bucolic paradise for some, if a bit lacking in stimulation for a city-loving culture-vulture like herself.
xxxThat being said, the people of Périgord (Périgordians? Périgordites?) were apparently among the longest-lived in the world. Or perhaps, she thought, with so little entertainment, it just seems longer.
xxxMuch of their longevity was attributed to their diet, particularly the huge quantities of goose fat and garlic it contained. And that, said Eppy, can be obtained most anywhere, not just in the controversial capital of foie gras d’oie. Still by the lazy river (though more wary of passing boatmen), still on her island near the town and a short train ride from the big city, she could cook and old favourite, with a dash of the Montrachet, and still have enough wine to accompany it.
xxxSlow simmering was needed — for food and lovers, she thought with a wry smile. If all he missed about her was the sight of her boobs and minge, he could go without the rest for a day or two. On the other hand, if garlic is an aphrodisiac, this dish could lead to serious frustration. To be on the safe side she limited herself to two plump and pungent cloves.
xxxThe star of the show was large, thick, juicy côtelet de porc, known back home as a gradely pork chop, with half a kidney nestling in its arc. After rubbing it all over with one cut clove, she made a number of nicks made with the sharp end of her knife, into which she inserted tiny slivers cut from the aromatic segments. Lightly sprinkled then it was with salt and freshly ground black pepper, rubbed in with a coating of olive oil, through which her fingers slid over the lubricious flesh, as she told herself to stop being silly, for the action and thoughts of the garlic’s alleged effects turned her thoughts in salacious but unwelcome directions.
xxxPotatoes. Po – tay – toes. Potatoes are not remotely sexy, she told herself. Put on some dance music and peel a potato. Then chop it into small cubes and salt it.
When I wake up to a brand new day
It makes me happy, it makes me feel that way
xxxThe only thing getting turned on in this kitchen is a pair of gas burners on the hob. And those on only a low heat.
I bring the sunshine; I bring the stars at night
You know I’ll be there to make you feel alright
xxxHer shuffling phone having selected some Nineties house choons, she bopped her way round the kitchen, stopping in one place long enough to dig out a small and large le Creuset skillet. Once on the heat each was treated to a generous spoonful of goose fat, which slipped and slid around as it melted. Into the large pan went the cutlet, while its smaller companion played host to the potato cubes and some thinly and rapidly-sliced (because almost-forgot) onion. The second clove of garlic, roughly but finely chopped, was divided between the two pans.
And when you’re down just listen to me boy
You can count on me ’cause I will bring you Joy
xxxNo vampires would be sinking their teeth into Epifanea’s neck tonight. Or probably for the rest of the month.
Gonna bring you Joy
Gonna bring you Joy
xxxFive minutes later, she turned over the chop and gave the potatoes a gentle stir. As Keith Flint invited her to smack his bitch up, an invitation she politely declined, she reopened the wine and poured herself a generous glass.
xxxAnd some for you, she said to the meat, tipping in just enough to moisten the base of the pan. The goose fat and the juices from the meat were in themselves enough to produce a jus, if not quite a gravy; the wine just contributed a little more flavour and lighten the texture. Moving the potatoes around one more time was a prelude to turning both rings down as low as they would go without being extinguished and covering each with a well-fitting lid.
xxxIn twenty minutes or so she would stir once more what a tiresome search of the internet had finally revealed to be pommes sarladaise; until now she’d only known it as a French version of its olive oil based Spanish cousin, patatas pobres. That stirring done, a handful of pitted green olives would be added to the chops, when they were turned for one last time. And not long after that she would boil some sugar snap peas and check the sauce with the meat, adding a dash more wine if need be, while she topped up her glass in preparation for the serving and the enjoying, which would be accompanied by the more soothing sounds of a Mozart piano concerto.
xxxBut while she waited to perform these actions, she stood on the veranda looking out at the river; though now respectably clad in shorts and a tee shirt, she kept a wary eye out for vulgar boatmen while she sipped on her wine and imagined his frustration at having his messages ignored.
xxxAnother one vibrated her muted phone. Idly she looked at it.
If you want to win me round that sort of pic is not the way to do it.
‘I show you mine, now show me yours’, is pathetic, even by your standards!
xxx— she thought, but did not reply. Boyfriends, like pork chops, sometimes need to simmer in their own juice.