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"June is bustin' out all over
All over the meadow and the hill!
Buds're bustin' outa bushes
And the rompin' river pushes
Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!

Because it's June, June, all because it’s June, June, June!"

Well, ok, you can't hear me thank goodness but it is a time when most of us feel better with a little more sunshine and long summer evenings. It's the time when summer holidays are on the agenda and outdoor gatherings with barbeques and picnics are beginning to happen.

It's a wonderful time of year to visit France and June is a good time if you want to avoid the crowds which will start with the French school holidays next month, July.

The countryside is truly magnificent wherever you travel so if you are planning on touring France you will not be disappointed. The spring showers will have encouraged many beautiful flowers to spring up everywhere making the countryside a palette of colour.

There are many things to see and do this month and if you love music July is the time when the Fête de la Musique takes place in Paris. This is a different type of music festival where amateur and professional musicians perform for free. It is popular with both the young and old, so is an opportunity for all age groups to enjoy the atmosphere.

The Paris Air Show also takes place during the third week of June so if you are an aviation enthusiast this may be for you.

In the beautiful countryside of Brittany sports car enthusiasts can enjoy the 24 Hours of Le Mans Auto Race. This has been held near Le Mans since 1923. This is held on a circuit with the public roads closed for the 24 hours of the event.

One of my favourite pastimes is browsing the many markets in France. Wherever we go I simply have to visit the markets and buy some of their fresh produce. The vegetables are fabulous, so fresh and healthy so these are first on my list. Then there are the French cheeses which again I cannot resist.

This gives me some really good food for our meals and picnics, together with some beautiful fresh fruit. And last but by no means least, are the fresh herbs; not small offerings such as we get in our supermarkets but big healthy bunches of French parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives and many more including endives and rocket. Then I will buy some garlic as it is something I use often in my cooking.

Cooking is not a chore when we are on holiday. Although we love self catering, the recipes can be easy and not time consuming. Using the local produce is a must for me. It is in my opinion the only way to eat when in France. I once heard of a lady who went to France on holiday from the United Kingdom and took her food with her – mostly tinned food such as corned beef! She obviously hadn’t heard that French cooking is the best in the world.

Apart from the fresh fruit and vegetables, the markets also sell fresh poultry and believe me there is nothing quite like the taste of freshly roasted French chicken. So for this month’s recipe I have chosen a recipe popular in many regions of France as it is very easy and so tasty. I have to warn you it is cooked with a great deal of garlic, however, it will not taste or smell strongly of garlic so please don’t be afraid to try this recipe. The garlic is cooked in its jacket and following the cooking, the garlic paste inside the jacket is used for spreading on crusty French bread.

Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves

Ingredients

  • 1 free range chicken
  • 40 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bunch of fresh tarragon
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Toasted bread or French crusty bread
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the chicken and place 4 cloves of garlic inside the cavity.
  • Brush a little olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place the herbs in the bottom of a large casserole/roasting pan (choose one with a tightly fitting lid) Place the garlic cloves with the herbs.
  • Now place your chicken to sit on the top of the garlic and herbs.
  • Place your tightly fitting lid on the pot.
  • Cook your chicken for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until cooked.

If you don’t have a good fitting lid, one of the methods used in France is to make a dough from water and flour, make a roll and then seal the pan lid with this dough. I think that tin foil may do the trick.

When you lift the lid your chicken will smell wonderful. You can serve it with your favourite vegetables or with a salad and the garlic paste spread on crusty French bread.

Bon Appétit