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Armchair Uzès

la Vie Quotidienne

février 2004

Toreadors to the rescue…
Toreros à l’écoute…

Damage estimates for December 2003 floods in and around Arles have topped 800 million euros, more than the devastating September 2002 floods. To help victims, a star of the bullfighting world threw his hat back into the ring one more time, rallying around an effort to bring relief to thousands of Arlesiens left stranded. Juan Bautista, aka Jean-Baptiste Jalabert, one of the Corrida’s leading figures and native of Arles, retired from the fighting sands in spring 2003; but when disaster hit the southern Rhône region late last year, he quickly called fellow toreros to enlist their help in putting together a Festival to raise money for flood victims.
    On February 22, Juan Bautista and six renowned colleagues proudly entered les arènes d’Arles for a magnificent display of showmanship, featuring some of the greatest of the living greats including El Cordobés, Jose María Manzanares and El Julí. Earlier in the day the Chapelle Sainte-Anne in Arles was the site of a grand auction of tauroculture treasures, including authentic capes, hats, saddles, paintings and sculpture. The highlight of the auction came late in the morning, when the beautiful Camargue filly, Viana, was bought as a birthday gift for more than $3,500. Proceeds from these events approached $100,000 (85,000 euros) and will go to help reconstruct homes, roads and also to rebuild herds and stables that were damaged in December. As spring approaches, the official bullfighting season begins in the south of France. But for this gallant effort, we tip our hats to Juan Bautista and his band of generous friends. Olé!

 



© REUTERS. Photo de 4 décembre 2003

Arles underwater in December...
Juan Bautista, native son and
bullfighter extraordinaire,
comes to help

JeanBaptisteJalabert.jpg (32958 bytes)

 


ArlesCook1.jpg (242110 bytes)

Chef Erick Vedel gathers students to set them a'chopping!


Provençal cuisine in Arles
La cuisine provençale

Want to hike the hills of Provence, prowl local markets, explore lavender fields, see how goat cheese is made, then come back to your home away from home to prepare an authentic provençal meal? In the heart of Arles, not 200 meters from les Arènes, Erick and Madeleine Vedel have created a culinary dream package for those interested in immersing themselves in cooking à la provençale. Madeleine (an American who fell in love with France, French cooking and a chef) puts together the programs and makes all arrangements. Erick is that chef. A few springs ago, a friend and I were lucky enough to join them for an evening cooking course that was delightful and delicious.
A large kitchen has been added to the back of their home, complete with stone walls, cooking and chopping islands, copper pots and lots of atmosphere. We started by making a hearty soupe au pistou, using fresh veggies from that day’s market. Erick, who speaks very little English but speaks Cuisine exquisitely, put us right to work chopping veggies and making the pistou (pesto) that flavors this very typical dish. Once we had the knife work out of the way, wine was poured and we moved on to the rest of the menu. We snacked on confît de canard (preserved duckmeat) while we sautéed potatoes in duck fat for pommes frites. The centerpiece dish was salt-encrusted whole fish that was baked to perfection. Dessert…a clafouti using local cherries picked earlier that day on their hike. What a feast, and what a warm and inviting way to cook en famille, delightful and delicious.
     Over the past year, they’ve added a Bed and Breakfast to their enterprise, introduced new programs for experiencing southern cuisine, and sometimes they even take their show on the road to the US. Visit them online at www.cuisineprovencale.com for schedules, recipes, and interesting profiles. Merci, chefs!

 


Take one whole fish...

ArlesCook3.jpg (177850 bytes)


Here come the ducklings…
Les canards se reunissent…

Get ready, Paris…one of the largest agricultural expositions in Europe and THE event of the season, the 40th Salon d’Agriculture hits town again in late February, early March. This annual extravaganza lures more than 600,000 visitors every year, average French folks in search of the perfect goose, cow, sheep, pig, seeds, tractor, baler, regional specialties, and much more. State fair meets the auto show...tout à la française with the finest of every species on display!
     Poitou-Charente holds center stage as featured region this year, but there will be exhibitors from all over
France and the world. Visitors aren't surprised to see hunting dogs demonstrating their talents amidst beautifully groomed dairy cows; Caribbean cooking and African spices alongside Normandy apples and Provençal olive oils. The Salon d’Agriculture, with this year’s theme Des Animaux, des Terroirs et des Hommes (Animals, Territory and People), promises a full range of demonstrations, traditions and techniques for a mere 11 euros. For a glimpse of this food-worshipping cultural gathering, it’s a bargain by any standards. The place is overrun with characters of all sorts, including politicians of every stripe, meeting and greeting the voting pool. If you’re in town you might want to stop by for a peek.

Salond'Agric4.jpg (122743 bytes)
Photos © Salon International de l'Agriculture

 

Salond'AgricDucklings.jpg (67767 bytes)

Ducks, dogs, cows..

Salond'Agric3.jpg (95326 bytes)

It's all happening at the Salon d'Agriculture

Salond'Agric1.jpg (102383 bytes)

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