Early morning in the Vendee, and I’m sitting outside with my morning coffee for the first time this year. Whoever said the countryside was quiet had not spent time in the countryside that we live in. The fields are alive with sound of tweeting, mooing, baahing, and ribbeting. Some are good sounds, and some are bad. Cows recently separated from their young bellow throughout the night and early morning; a sound that I find quite sad. Whereas tiny frogs in the ponds around us appear to have had massive amplifiers genetically implanted in order to produce a volume of sound that is totally out of proportion to their size. The back wall of our house is one huge housing estate for battling, nesting birds. I thought birds were cute until I saw them killing the young of their neighbours, which fact has a frightening resonance. Tractors and chainsaws add to this extraordinary dawn chorus leaving me counting the hours until it’s time for “la sieste”. From 2.00pm to 4.00pm all is peace. La sieste is upon us as I write this post. It is hard to believe that we are at the beginning of April, as the temperature in the sun in our small courtyard is over 30C, which has set me to thinking of summer eating. Whatever the air temperature may be summer eating needs summer ingredients, and they are just not here yet. Peaches and melons, ripe misshapen tomatoes, the sweetest, fattest mussels, pots full of basil, aubergines and tiny courgettes, new garlic – all of these, and more, are the catalysts of les recettes estivales. Until they arrive I’ll content myself with the sun and my dreams, and maybe a pasta with breadcrumbs, chillies, pecorino and plenty of good olive oil.