Charente Maritime on a plate
My father’s garden is bursting with fresh vegetables; sweet cucumbers (no, I didn’t know they were supposed to be sweet either, until I ate the ones he grew this year); sun kissed strawberries which we pick for breakfast, Charentais melons with heady orange flesh; colourful peppers and many more.
Charente Maritime’s moto is ‘Terre et Mer’ (Ocean and Earth) and the ocean’s offerings are just as diverse at this time of year as the garden’s – and pleasant to seek because of the clement weather. This allows us to go on many fishing expeditions, on boats for fish and prawns or on foot for oysters, various clams and shrimps.
It is the perfect place to create an appetite and therefore, Terre et Mer seemed the perfect concept to start filling our paleo plate.
There is no greater joy than watching my youngest, five, run to those returning from their fishing trip to ask them wide eyed and expectant what they have in their baskets. Actually, there is: watching her excitement when she is grabbing the catch herself, such as a razor clam rising out of its sanded burrow.
She doesn’t even like sea food…..in fact, she hates it. To show that foraging for food provides a totally different pleasure to eating it.
My eldest, 12, is not the greatest fan of picking and foraging, or working in any way towards her dinner, unless it involves a boat. But she will taste and enjoy most foods (I think she draws the line at insects though), letting numerous ‘hum!’ and ‘yum!’ escape from her lips.
To me, the whole journey is a delight, from the promise of a full basket of razor clams to the excitement of finding an area of plenty; from the wait to see whether the clam will rise out of its burrow to the satisfaction of knowing that if it doesn’t, it’s my loss and nature’s gain; from the sensory delight that is cooking them to the pleasure of eating them in good company.
And I find that this is true of most foods.
It is about the ingredients. I enjoy the entire journey I make with them to the plate. I love the expectation of the find whether it is deep underground or piled high on a market stall. I love the challenge of choosing the right flavour to marry it to, of how to best make it sing. I love the organic thought process that will take a seed of an idea to a glorious dish.
For me, it is never only about nutrition.
For you, it can be about all of the above, the preparation or just simply about appreciating a good plate of food. It does not matter, as long as the ingredient sings.
Let these recipes be your music sheets.