Going swimming this morning showed us how little we know about France. Although my husband was at Uni here and we have visited yearly since we met ten years ago ... you would not have known this when you saw us at the local swimming pool today.
We arrived with two very excited children, we bought our tickets and then had to spend another 15 euros buying us all swimming hats, apparently you can not swim in public pools without one.
We navigated the changing room, managed to get our children to have showers and were on the side about to jump in when we noticed the whole pool had gone quiet, you could hear a pin drop as everyone stopped swimming and turned to look at les rosbifs. The life guard came rushing over ... monsieur, monsieur ... arretez ... c’est interdit de nager comme ca!!
Our mistake ... Rich had boardshorts on, the lifeguard explained that in France men are only allowed small knicker things ...
With Rich banned from the pool I was left to take the children on my own. I was half way down the steps when we hit another problem ... our two year old was also in boardshorts. As I braced myself to explain the boardshort problem to my toddler, the life guard took pity on us ... after a short lecture, apparently no boardshorts has been law in France for ten years, he let Charlie jump in ... phew ... one tantrum averted.
We got home and put two very tired children into bed for an hour while we had a glass of wine and artichoke ... My Grandpa used to grow these in his garden on the Isle of Man, every time I eat them I think of the first time he taught me how to pick, cook and eat them on a very sunny afternoon, not that different from the weather today:
Serves 2 (1 artichoke per person)
2 Artichokes, 50g Butter, Salt
- Cut the stalk off the artichoke, so you are left with no more than 1cm of stalk
- Rinse the artichoke in cold water
- Place in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water
- Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes. The artichoke is cooked when you can easily pull of the leaves at the bottom of the artichoke by the stalk
- Remove from water, drain and place on a plate ... melt the butter in a saucepan and place in a dipping bowl, I use unsalted butter so tend to add a little salt to the butter ... it tastes delichous
- You are ready to eat
I thought I would add eating notes incase you have not tackled an artichoke before.
- Start by peeling off each leaf of the artichoke, dip the bottom white fleshy part of the leaf into the butter
- Place the white fleshy bit that you have covered in butter, in your mouth, the inside of the artichoke leaf should be on your tongue.
- Pull through your teeth, this will remove the butter covered soft white fleshy bit of the artichoke ... which is the bit you are meant to be eating.
- Discard the leaf and repeat till you have eaten all of the leaves.
- Once all the leaves have been eaten you will see white hairs, these are the choke and you can not eat them.
- Use a spoon to scoop out all of the hairs, if the odd one sticks to the artichoke heart (which is what you call the lump of flesh you are left with) wash them off under the tap
- Once they have been removed slice up the artichoke heart and dip each of the slices in butter and eat them
I have put cooking time of about 30-40 minutes as cooking time varies due to the size of the artichoke. The ones I cooked today were roughly 14cm in diameter. They took 35 minutes.
If you want to add flavour to the artichoke you can add a clove of garlic and a quarter of a lemon to the water that you boil the artichoke in. I prefer it cooked on its own but give it a go and see what you prefer.