Carrots are huge; they have always been huge but now, in our moment of need, they are humongous which is why I cannot find even a one of them for my cooking pot. The humongosity, however, does not relate to the carrot per se but to the appetite for them shown by our fellow on line or in line shoppers here, in La France Profonde. I cook quite a lot; for quite a lot read a lot. I cook every day and have done so for the last 20 years….before that I cooked quite a lot, and yet, when I would shop for ingredients I can rarely remember taking more that 1 or 2 or maybe 3 if a very carroty dish was in my mind which it wouldn’t have been save for a carrot soup with star anise that was served in small coffee cups, a weird taste surprise for those who weren’t prepared or hadn’t been listening, that would only take a couple of carrots for four small cups, as cream and stock are involved, and, as cooking for more that 4 people is my idea of mass catering, it wouldn’t, as I said earlier, have been the case. But the French hereabouts must fill their chariots ( supermarket trolley rather than Boadicea’s prototype Magimix…I refuse to say Boudicca as it’s like spelling my name Rodger) with them as is evinced by the immense spaces where, in infinite shape, tone and type, a seraglio of carrots would lay in a momentous phallic display but which now are void; they are carrotless as are the algorithmic spaces on computer screens. Here, in la belle France, in the month of April something is stirring and that something would appear to be carrots. Henri IV declared, according to legend, during an argument with the Duc de Savoie in the Jeu de Paume that every paysan should have a poule in his pot every Sunday. What he didn’t include was the vegetables that would also be in that pot amongst which are carrots and, with all France in lockdown, it would appear that every day is Sunday and after their poule au pot they are having carrot cake and after that …..carrot petits fours? As in remembering film names, actors’ names, my mobile phone number or any number of other things I cannot remember many carrot recipes beyond roasted, stewed or puréed, and it would be a sad, dull man who could: so I googled “carrot recipes” and came up with a 100 or so that were the ones I’ve just mentioned but with different names. And then…a eureka moment…carrotes rapées…..in my experience during the last 20 years in France it has become apparent that the salad of grated carrots is the fuel of the bourgeosie and/or every French person. There are very few things that I dislike about France, which is why we ( I have to admit Jenny is not completely of my opinion) have lived here for so long without the remotest desire ( pace Jenny ) to return to perfidious Albion but carrotes rapées is among that select band. It’s not that I dislike the taste it’s just the insane amount that is on offer and is offered and, even when well dressed, the endless orange tangle quickly becomes an obstacle, an unwanted challenge which I refuse to accept and in protest of its offensiveness I may well have to don a gilet orange and green hat and burn something which won’t be a carrot as there aren’t any.
Q.So why do you want a fucking carrot, Rodger?
A. Because, a carrot together with a stick celery and an onion, all finely chopped, slowly cooked down in a bath of butter and olive oil is base of all marvellous taste in savoury cooking but I only want one of the fuckers as they go limp and grey and horrible if they hang around in the kitchen and just don’t say look in a mirror, Rodger.