One of my favourite 'cooking shows' is on again and every Wednesday lunchtime I make a large pot of tea and stretch out on the chesterfield and float away ... to the canals of France.
With Rick Stein's French Odyssey.
It doesn't matter how many times I've seen each episode, or that I will never attempt to recreate any of his recipes, just listening to him enthusiastically describe the ingredients and the cooking method, humming along to the the head-bopping, toe-tapping accompanying music, watching the tranquil scenery unfold as his barge put-puts through the canals of Southern France into the most picturesque countryside and villages gets me drooling. And weeping with jealousy.
He is brimming with passion at everything he sees and tastes. So many of these 'reality shows' are so earnest as to be painful to watch. This is one example that takes you into the tv with him, "the constantly changing vista: sometimes a ruined chateaux, rolling vine-laden countryside, yellow fields of corn. The utterly serene pace of life."
"Coming into a village is particularly easy on the eye… The Canal du Midi was built when the waterways were the deluxe form of transport --- so that unlike entering a modern town by train, past back gardens, graffiti-daubed walls and rusty factories --- travelling by French canals you go through the best bits: …under elegant bridges and alongside towpaths with pretty houses, right into the centre."
He mentions frequently that things move at a leisurely pace and that locals take their time to experience and savour the finer things of life. Lunches and dinners were always enjoyed leisurely, with always just enough and no more. There is a French saying that one should always leave the table wanting more. This is suppose to be one way to keep yourself trimmer - though it doesn't look like it worked on him. Perhaps, the barge trip was a little too leisurely?
I'm sure it is not all so perfect as the series suggests.
But it does looks so unbelievably romantic.
I need a glass of wine.
Someone please make me a cassoulet.