Eating outdoors at last….


Dreams have the unfortunate habit of remaining unfulfilled so it is always a delight to have one come true. As the years have passed I have learnt to keep my dreams simple so, on this cusp of summer time, the fruition of my simple dream to have lunch at a table in the garden was gratifying, and surprising. The surprise lay in the taste of the food or, to be clear, in the apparent increase in flavour of this particular dish that I have eaten, often, this winter but, being winter, I have eaten it indoors. The thought of a dish of Toulouse sausages and lentils conjures up the warm flickering fire light of a cosy, rustic kitchen and that is how I have enjoyed it, at intervals, over the last six months. Today had the feeling of an early summer’s day but winter food was in the pot.

To me there is little question that the flavours of food are more clearly defined when it is served warm, rather than very hot. My sudden decision to eat outside created the perfect conditions for the sausages and lentils to achieve this ideal temperature on its way from the kitchen to the great outdoors. I am a firm supporter of the Nigel Slater school of food photography….it needs to be done quickly as I want to eat the food. If I didn’t want to eat the food, I wouldn’t be taking a picture of it. There was a large period of my life when I regularly took an unconscionably long time to take pictures of food that I didn’t particularly like. That is the lot of a professional food photographer. Not being paid means one is no longer professional, ergo shooting very quickly and having a good lunch is allowed.


The Puy lentils had been cooked yesterday. Carrot, celery,onion and garlic are finely chopped and slowly cooked in olive oil. I like this to be a slow, harmonious process as the mirepoix needs to soften rather than brown. Puy lentils no longer need to be sieved and turned over in order to remove grit and small stones of the volcanic soil of Le Puy. I put them in a saucepan, just covering them in cold water, and bring them quickly to the boil. Rinse them immediately under cold, running water and they are ready to be added to the mirepoix. Season them lightly and cover them with vegetable stock adding the sausages, that have been previously browned in a pan, Cover the casserole and cook gently for about 40 minutes. Look out the window to check that the sun is shining, serve yourself and slowly walk to a well positioned table in the garden. A sip of wine, flick out the white napkin and tie it around your neck et regalez vous.


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 2014, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, Drinks, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Garden, harmony, Kitchens, Meat, Nigel Slater, Photography, photography course, Toulouse sausages, Uncategorized, Weather, wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Eating outdoors at last….

  1. suej says:

    Simple and tasty…I do this in winter, and eat Ratatouille with it…

  2. Lauren says:

    I definitely subscribe to the “take it quickly so you can eat it!” school of food photography. This looks and sounds delicious.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I’m still on oxtail and eating outdoors, but if he weathermen are telling the truth (which is debatable) it will be 19º C here tomorrow. I could even cook a barbecue!
    Those look like happy sausages 😉

  4. We had breakfast in the garden this week – ah the simple pleasures in life! I agree with the warm rather than hot principle. In Greece I think it’s quite common to prepare a lot of restaurant dishes in the morning and serve later in the day at room temp. And there’s a lot to be said for not getting paid but being able to sit down and enjoy the food you want to eat!

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    Just Wednesday a neighbor and I were lamenting that it’s been far too long since we sat in our yards and talked through the fence. I so look forward to that first coffee of the morning sipped in my yard. I may get the chance Sunday. This post has made me regret returning the lentils the store’s shelf this morning and not placing them into my basket.

  6. Someday I’ll have a garden and patio, I think, but Midwestern Americans aren’t the type to converse to our neighbors while relaxing. We’re always in the process of doing something (i.e. shoveling a driveway, mowing, painting, etc.). It would seem a bit of conversation anxiety, as it’s easy to excuse oneself and go back to work.

    • I know what you mean. We have a little walled garden so we have complete privacy…I don’t think I’d want to talk to the neighbours while I was having a quiet coffee…unless I’d invited them to join me….I’m pretty sure that they feel the same.

  7. catterel says:

    One day we too will be able to eat outside … that looks very tempting.

  8. Eha says:

    Lovely dish I so like! Lovely to have it outdoors!! Since I work from home my main meal is lunch and even when the winter daytime temps are 10 – 14 C, I’ll take my plate outdoors amongst all the greenery!!! The food tastes much better 🙂 ! I had a number of good Middle-Eastern gfs who taught me to eat most food room temperature . . . . actually much healthier that way and after all this time I never even think of how ‘hot’ something is!! Just, how tasty 😀 !!

  9. saucygander says:

    Wonderful lunch! Most of the time, I don’t even take a photo before eating the food…

  10. Simone says:

    How wonderful! A friend just pointed me to your blog and I love it. I totally know what you mean about shooting food for ages which you don’t really like (I’m a foodphotographer) and I love taking photos for my blog as it gives me the freedom to do exactly the opposite!

  11. chef mimi says:

    A beautiful meal. I’m so jealous!!!!! No good weather yet here…

  12. Amanda says:

    Oh lovely! Spring really is taking its time.

  13. Karen says:

    I had almost the same meal this weekend but alas mine was eaten in the warmth of my kitchen. I will look forward to trying this same meal when it turns warm and appreciate the subtle differences.

  14. Puy lentils are terrific. I can imagine sitting in the garden, enjoying this warm dish and a nice glass of wine 🙂

  15. Did you have to mention TOULOUSE SAUSAGES? I’m trying to write!!!!

  16. Just the thing I need to do with my new found french lentils. 🙂 …and sit outside too.

  17. Vasun says:

    I could taste this as I was reading your words. Enjoy the start of summer:) it’s just too humid here for me to enjoy anything outdoors.

  18. Yes, oh my God, yes! Eating outside, drinking outside, living outside as much as possible! I love lentils, but have never added sausages to the mix. What a simple, delicious, protein packed meal. Great photos as usual.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.