Hello French Market friends,
Tomorrow is the 14th of July, the National Day of France. This day was chosen by the leaders of the Republicans as it was the most significant date during the French revolution when the revolutionaries stormed the feared Royalist prison La Bastille Saint-Antoine in Paris. (Painting by Jean-Baptiste Lallemand) After the fall of the prison a Mason started to sell off the stones and eventually the entire structure was demolished.
The Tricolore, the French national flag was derived from the red and blue colours (of the city of Paris) that the revolutionaries wore, to which was finally added the white of the Royal House of France. This national flag is emblematic of the solidarity and the rights of French people and the subsequent liberated state of France. The flag is flown over every government building and major monuments and is used as backdrop for every major government event.
To celebrate the French National Day there is a parade along the Champs Elysees and the French President takes the salute. This year President Macron will be accompanied by Prime Minister Modi from India. After the parades there are plenty of festivities across the country, with firework displays happening in many towns, the most famous is the firework display at the Eiffel Tower that can be viewed from most of Paris.
Even in the heart of the countryside, where I have a tiny cottage, during the day the local Mairie (Municipality) organises a fete in the centre of the little town, with Vide Greniers (outdoor bric a brac market) and food stalls. In the evening all the local villagers and townspeople gather around a big open field at the foot of the old Chateau de Rochechouart, which sits on a hill overlooking a lake. Long tables are set out on the field, local farmers and wines makers sell their produce and music is supplied by the Mairie. Everyone eats and drinks and chatters with their neighbours, most of them know each other since school days, and the children rush around having a noisy fun time. After dark the Mairie organises a musical firework display, which is reflected in the still waters of the lake. It’s a great experience to be part of, it feels as if the festivals and country life in France remain constant despite the many challenges around us.
Throughout South Africa the French authorities celebrate the 14th of July. We have been honoured again this year to be chosen by the French Embassy in Pretoria and the French Consulate in Johannesburg and Cape Town to supply the cheese for their events. It required careful planning to get about 60kgs of cheese in from France, cut the orders and courier all around the country. Our cheese was delivered safely to Pretoria and Johannesburg for their events and tomorrow morning we cut the cheese for the French Consulate event in Cape Town. I then set up the cheese boards at the venue in the afternoon. I rush out the back service door and change out of my tablier (apron) get cleaned up and put on some smarter clothes, then walk back in through the front entrance as a guest. Also joining the event tomorrow evening is the U-20 French rugby team which should be fun.
In our shop tomorrow we have a wonderful range of French cheeses and French wines for you to make your very own special 14th July Bastille Day party. Tomorrow we are offering 10% discount on all our cheese and French wines in celebration of Bastille Day.
For the recipe this week I decided it needed to be on the Tricolore Theme and I chose a really simple idea using Blueberries and Strawberries layered with creme fraiche and sliced almonds, see below. I recommend pairing this with a glass of Rose Champagne from Tribaut Schloesser.
Wishing you a Joyeuse Fête de La Bastille !
Suzanne and The French Market Team