Last summer whine..

The silence after the hubbub of Sunday lunch is like the white noise that fills the brain as a general anaesthetic takes effect. There’s a mixture of narcotic pleasure in the cushioned lushness of the collapse from consciousness, combined with the feeling that something is missing; that there was more to come and now it’s passed out of reach. It’s a good feeling, if you can keep your eyes open for long enough to define it.


There is a fragmentation of time during the summer months, on account of the absence of friends and family through staggered holiday breaks and the simple pleasure of being outside doing summery things. It needs the onset of Autumn to renew the pleasure afforded by a family Sunday lunch around a table. Such was today’s lunch, which was followed by a walk in the forest with children and dogs. We’re still in shorts but our hearts are full of Autumn intent.

We ate a simple lunch to suit the tastes of a table laid for three generations. Roast chicken and gravy, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, and bottled petit pois and carrots ( which are a weakness of mine) followed by meringues and chilled, apricot compote, or sponge cake filled with apricot jam and cream, with vanilla ice cream if needed. The ingredient that made the flavours more than they might have been was thought, if thought can be an ingredient. I thought about how to cook this chicken and opted for Annie Bell’s clever idea of poaching the chicken first and then roasting it. This recipe flies in the face of so many aficionados of the roasted chicken, but it works. A chicken, wet from poaching, miraculously and against the odds, becomes a golden, crisp skinned, juicy roast bird. You are also left with very good poaching liquid to help flavour the gravy. The potatoes are parboiled, drained and banged around in their cooking pan until all their edges are a fluffy mess and then rolled around in hot olive oil in a roasting tray, fresh from the oven. Sea salt, black pepper and a fine sprinkle of polenta ensure a crisp, golden crust around a fondant potato. Parmesan and Cantal Entre Deux are grated into the bechamel for the cauliflower cheese and we’re ready to eat. Flavours forgotten over summer create a certain silence at the table save for the cries that would have enraged the Beadle – “MORE, DO I HEAR MO-O-R-R-E”.

Then there’s walking, and tea and second helpings of pudding and then it’s the end of the afternoon and goodbyes and kisses and dogs barking and the anaesthetist starts his work……


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Apricot jam, apricots, Autumn, Baking, Cheese, Chicken, Cooking, Digital photography, Emotion, family, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Fruit, Kitchens, Olive oil, Parmesan, Photography, Poultry, sea salt, Sunday, Sunday lunch, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Last summer whine..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Sounds perfect πŸ˜‰

  2. lulu says:

    What a delightful opening paragraph. You have a way with words as well as with the camera!

  3. Sounds like perfect Sunday, I think I may have to loosen the belt a notch and just take a little nap now…..

  4. cecilia says:

    Perfect. Simple and perfect. (snore) And thank you for the poaching tip. i shall try this when my roasters come to roost in my freezer. I shall check out the link.. thank you.. c

  5. margaret21 says:

    That sounds good. Annie Bell is very reliable I find. And for French chickens, which can be incredibly tasty but sometimes a little tough if simply roasted, from all that sprinting round the farmyard, this sounds a perfect solution.

  6. What a meal! Your potatoes are always perfect.

  7. Sounds a dream. Once I knew a Scotsman who poached then roasted his chickens. They were always perfection. I’m a firm believer in this method though I don’t always do it.

  8. Hmm…I rarely am sad about the last days of summer. I definitely prefer the cool days of fall and snows of winter.

  9. Michelle says:

    What an interesting technique for the chickenβ€”and one I’d never heard of. Will have to try that. Oh, yes, and lovely pics, Roger.

  10. mrsgillies says:

    Yum, yum and yum! And yes, i love that feeling after – it’s like all is well with the world.

  11. Ah, family Sunday lunch. Sounds like a fantastic time, Roger!

  12. What a dreamy day. I’m going to try the poaching before roasting….great idea. You whole feast sounds incredibly wonderful.

  13. That writing was lush. You cook up posts as well as you seem to cook up Sunday lunch. Thank you.

  14. Amanda says:

    What a lovely simple meal. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous.

  15. Wow, lucky kids and grandkids! Definitely trying that new method for roasting chicken.

  16. Stunning photos Roger, they embody your post perfectly. Great sounding Sunday lunch πŸ™‚

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me, Roger. Add my name to the list of those who’ve never heard of poaching a chicken before roasting and I’ll give it a try, too — anything for a nicely roasted chicken. πŸ™‚

  18. catterel says:

    When the family has all gone home again, can I come and be your lodger?? Pretty please? πŸ˜€

  19. Karen says:

    A deliciously simply meal with loved ones sounds perfect…perhaps a little nap after the walk. πŸ™‚

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