The love of France has always been with me even after I moved to England 16 years ago. Here is one of many memories I remember as a child.
In the summer during the school holiday, I used to go to my auntie to spend some time with my cousin who was the same age as me. She lived on a farm in a small Hamlet just outside Châtelaudren in North Brittany and they farmed cows, sheep and chickens. They also kept, as is common in farming communities, a selection of dogs who lived in kennels outside, to help with “La Chasse”, the national sport of hunting with the chief victims being rabbit, pheasant and partridge.
We used to get up early in the morning, have a lovely breakfast with warm baguette and a large bowl of hot chocolate - I still can smell it from here. Once breakfast was finished we went on our first job of the day, the collection of eggs. My auntie and uncle had around 2000 chickens and every morning we used to collect the eggs by hand, put them on trays (alvéole) then onto trolleys ready to sort the boxes for collection from the buyer. It would take us all morning but each day we were looking forward to the egg collection as we were having so much fun - there is nothing so tasty as fresh eggs in an omelette especially those collected yourself.
I also remember my cousin keeping rabbits which lived in hutches in the garden. Living on a farm, they were not kept for pets so becoming too attached to them was not an option. Let me tell you what happened to them……British readers of a certain age will I am sure remember the song “Run rabbit Run rabbit, Run Run Run” – well, before the rabbits had a chance to run, once they reached an optimum size they were considered perfect for the dish “lapin aux pruneaux”. Before they were killed, my cousin thought that if she gave them a little drop of rum they would not feel the pain so much and would not realise what was happening to them, I thought that was very sweet! And the rum probably added to the flavour of the dish!
This is just one of my childhood memories I have of growing up in Northern France and spending time on the farm during the school holiday but do not worry there is more to come!!!!!!