Feature Article #1

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Thanks for resting your eyeballs here for a moment.(They are resting, right?) If you rest them a little longer, you may learn some interesting,(hopefully)entertaining, and, yes, ocassionally BIZARRE things about FRENCH COUNTRY LIFE (more…)

| January 27th, 2017 | Continued

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Famous French Pie – Part Three

(authors note : checking out parts ONE and TWO will enable you to be more “hip to da trip.”)

There came a time in the life of the exotic stranger from the far away lands, when he was obliged to take a pause in his French Travelling adventures. A Long Pause. For the understandable reason of translating his unique experiences into words and pictures. Otherwise, he would be the only one enjoying them. (never the concept!)

To accomplish these feats of daring do (or is that daring “do-do?”) he needed not to worry about those mundane, yet essential daily “life elements” such as food, shelter and internet access. Having no deep pockets, or friends with the same, and not elegible (or prepared to wait) for a grant from the “we-help-exotic-strangers-from-the-far-away-lands-with-their-life-changing-artistic projects” foundation – a sound could be heard. The sound of one hand clapping.

The answer to this zen riddle was provided by (you’re ahead of me already, aren’t you?) – Jean Tatin.Here’s what happened : It was early September. Jean was preparing for “le vendange.” The grape harvest. In not one, but two vineyards. They would be consecutive, but not concurrent. (as my English teacher would have said) ie-one after the other. With tons of prep. needed to house, feed and transport them thar grape pickers.

Would not a promotional video of le vendage be helpful to Domaines Tatin?

And were there not many ocassions where music would take tastings and other vineyard functions to – yes, I must say it – “The next level?”

And would it not also be advantageous to have a “go-fer” at the ready for additional, instanteous assistance? (“go-fer” being not the small furry animal that digs up yer garden, but an “errand person” – as in go-fer this, go-fer that.)

Verily, so it was, I proposed to Jean that he do what Universities and Colleges have done for countless eons. Welcome an “Artist-In-Residence.” He agreed. And Wine making history was made! (that is, unless, some other wino already had an “A.I.R.”)

I was “installed” in a tiny, but every so cozy “mother-in-law” apartment at the end of the gite closest to the house. One windowless room – bed and table. (but windows in the door) With an even tinier rectangular kitchen/shower adjacent. In Hollywood-ese: an “efficiency apartment.”

It was there I toiled with writing and editing. An internet connected portable in the house was available when needed.

I ate with the family. And was, as agreed, pressed into whatever service Jean needed.

Part Four of my A.I.R. experience at Domaines Tatin – Next Time.

THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

Famous French Pie – Part Two

 

 

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The French Country Travel Life Pie – Part Two – may be best appreciated by first thrilling to PART ONE.

He was smiling. Not a polite but slightly apprehensive smile. But a totally genuine and relaxed one.  As if I was an old pal who had unexpectedly dropped by.

Before I could even finish my brief “here’s why I’m knocking on your door on a dark rainy night’ rant, Jean ushered me in.

His equally hospitable wife, Chantal didn’t ask the obvious question. (That being “Have you eaten?”) but immediately seated me at the dinner table and began reheating the remains. While Jean poured me a very welcome glass of his wine. And we got to know each other.

I was suprised to learn, in contrast to most vinerons, that both Jean and Chantal were Agicultural Engineers. This education and attitude was reflected in the International nature of the books and newspapers I saw in their living room. Chantal corresponded with several people in Eastern Europe, helping them learn French. (Her origin is Polish) and Jean frequently hosted students and inspiring winos from lands even more exotic than mine. Bottom line: They lived in the country. But were plugged into the World and helping people.

Morning’s light confirmed that “Domain Tatin” was not your classic “Little Farm on the Prairie.” Like most wine makers, Jean and Chantal are on the “wine tourism” trail. And so have a Gite.

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This for me, was the mother of all Gites. Seperate from their house, but at right angles to it, the Gite comprises a main floor/living room(bigger than their own) with a fireplace, plus a second floor with (didn’t count ’em) 5 or 6 rooms each with two beds.

Below this, a bar/tasting room, which opens up onto a “salle de reception.” (think school cafeteria.) With long retangular tables at the ready for whatever wine-related occasion.

In addition to tourism and their vineyards, the Tatins also have some-non wine crops. All of this necessitating a permanent staff of 5 or 6 people. To maximize time and efforts, Jean has as 3 or 4 “beat up old cars” with keys always in the ignition. So, when every someone needs to get from a to b, they just hop in the nearest “efficient transportation.”

As you would expect from modern farmer, Jean is plugged into the tech marvels that (sometimes) make life easier. Once, riding with him as he organized workers on his iphone while driving, I asked him what life was like before digital electonics. Jean replied: (in perfect english, tho’ he professes not to speak it) “It was a different world.”

Jean and Chantal have three daughters: The (non-identical) twins : Elise and Joanna, and Maroussia , the youngest. She is the only one active in the family business. And will eventually be the “Chef” of Domaines Tatin. Elise is an incredible painter and art professor. Joanna, inheriting her Mother’s talent, is an equally incredible musician (accordian) and vocalist.

But wait – there’s more! Elise and Joanna speak three languages. And Maroussia four. International enough for ya?

The night before my departure, after my “overnite” at Chez Tatin had been mutually extended several days, Jean enquired about my route. He then phoned a fellow wino 50kms (a days ride) down the road, who was also up for a visit from the exotic stranger from the far away lands.

You’re beginning to see why this guy is such a treasure. Aren’t you?

Part Three – Next Time

THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

Famous French Pie – Part One

 

 

The French Country Travel Life Pie  is uniquely French. That being said, it doesn’t, at least in the incarnations of which I’m aware, have any wine, or exotic flavored spirits within.

Although it can be made with pears, peaches, pineapple, or even (not to DA BG’s taste!) tomatoes, this thoroughly French dessert is usually made with apples. Which are caramelized in butter and sugar before baking.

The closest (perhaps only?) non-French relative of this froggie delicacy is the pineapple upside down cake. And if you saw this famous French creation, that’s probably what you’d mistake it for. Because the “Tart Tatin” is an apple upside down cake.

While not obscured in the mists of time, like most culinary creations, there are different accounts of exactly who the original creators were. The most widely accepted “Historical reality” is that the Tart Tatin was created accidently by one of two sisters who ran a small Hotel south of Paris. Their family name? – Tatin.

Regardless of the accuracy of it’s origins, the “Tart Tatin” Is a classic in the French culinary repetoire.

My friend Jean Tatin, a descendant of those sisters, is also a classic. Not for his connection to the “family tart” or his fine wine. But for his Humanity. Jean Tatin is a Classic “human being.” Who just happens to be French.

It was raining the night I met Jean. Not heavily. But steadily. And the temperature and color of the sky confirmed that it wasn’t going to improve. Plus, it was getting seriously dark.I was in the flat farmlands of the Cher region. Just before the Loire bends to the right and turns toward Bourges. Farm country. No “single family dwellings.” Just another farm every five to 10 kilometers.

At one of these “few and far between” cow posts where I stopped to inform Ma and Pa that this could be their big (and only) chance to offer some DRY French hospitality to the exotic stranger from the far away lands, the friendly farmette graciously demured. But said that I would most probably find a warm(and dry) welcome at the next farm down the line.

Ten soggy minutes later, I was at the front door of a large, but (for that region) suprisingly large house. Definitely not from the same “been here for 200 years” mold of the neighbour farms.

My knock was answered quickly. With a relaxed smile. By a Man of my height. But, happily for him, with more “meat on his bones.” Jean Tatin.

Part Two – Next Time

p.s. in case you missed the video above – HERE’S THE LINK!

THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?