Logbook of a confined person in Ajaccio: looking for lost time…

I was lulled by the sounds of the saucepans, learned my alphabet by watching the dough knead before being comforted with good dishes.
I spent so much time in the kitchen when I was a child, with my grandparents, that I have an emotional bond with this place and what comes out of it. I love more than anything that people cook for me.

No luck, I can only count on my own person at the moment (and a little on my neighbor, who yesterday made me some brioche).

My neighbor's brioche (very successful) / © DR
My neighbor’s brioche (very successful) / © DR

A little crazy

Since confinement, my horizon is therefore my kitchen which leads directly to the living room.
Since my virtual universe seems to be playing in a huge “Top Chef”, I decided to get into it too.

In fact, it was all about occupying my head. I started by baking, as a reflex, because I have two, three recipes in my pocket that I do well.
My classics are executed in a jiffy.

It is for this reason that I appreciate this sweet version of my repertoire. In my time as a woman in a hurry, she is easy to fit.
In the confined space, it is heartbreaking. However, I realized one thing: if I naturally went for desserts, it was not for nothing.

As a child, when she was in the kitchen, my great grandmother often let me help her prepare the sweet. She taught me very early how to crack eggs – eggs which she would herself make snow with the force of her wrist – to make them whiten and to knead the homemade dough, part of which was always reserved for me so that i exercise my fingers in manufacturing.

From this piece of the past, I have a gesture that – although little exercised – comes back to me easily.
With the idea of ​​a potential hereditary talent for cooking, I decided to take over the family torch and this time opt for salty.
I immediately displayed the desire to make a couscous.

Go understand why couscous when all community life is prohibited and that at least six at the table this dish does not have the same flavor!
Without doubt a way of refusing air containment. And to rediscover the notion of time without finding it long. So I took out the large cookware recovered from my grandmother’s cupboards years ago… and reclaimed the recipe.

I remember the image of my grandmother rising at dawn to chain the rounds of pots, sieves and containers of all kinds. Tired in advance, I took the initiative to simplify everything.

And therefore to begin a series of tests likely to validate my new way of considering the rhetoric of family love without completely betraying it.
When you have had to go through psychoanalysis to manage to use a pressure cooker without being afraid that it will explode, the world is in principle adaptable to what you are.

Especially in the kitchen!

The smell of spices or nostalgia in the kitchen / © DR
The smell of spices or nostalgia in the kitchen / © DR

So I swapped the couscoussier for a pressure cooker, the tastier meat for the chicken I had in the freezer and mourned the artichoke hearts displayed in the list of original ingredients.
Anyway, I opted for slow cooking. And I was right!

When after the first heating round, the Ras el Hanout, the four spices and the cumin were added to the meat and vegetables, I had switched to childhood.
What if I had chosen couscous only to better find this olfactory tissue that would reassure me?

What would my childhood be like without the smell of goat at Christmas, figatellu in winter, couscous at Passover and lemon tart in any season?

I hate cooking smells (especially frying) but I’m the first to think about it when I smell the smell of a casserole dish in others, “Hum, it smells good in this house! “. I hope my house still smells good, but you can’t say that I fill it with those scents of love. Yes, because cooking is love.
I received so much from my grandparents!

© DR
© DR

Love book …

In the heart of this confinement, I needed to immerse myself in a bath of affection, so, strong of these first sensations, I came out with the essential 702 pages (not counting the end space reserved for notes) by Françoise Bernard, “Easy recipes”.

The book was given to me for my birthday last year by a person who knows me well, the word “easy” having enormous appeal in my reading grid for cooking.
For a long time, I could not help but fantasize about my talents as a cordon bleu, often favoring form at the bottom …
It took my imagination to leave a memorable memory of my time in the kitchen!

The children of my friends can testify to it, and in particular Camille whom I kept small and who had split a poem in my place which concludes thus: “And finally, nothing should be changed / And especially not your delicious mash”.
The little girl she was at the time was referring to a Mousseline puree that had flopped (too runny).
However, she forgot to point out that the crunchy croque-monsieurs – also among my famous failures – we tasted plates placed on the edge of the pool, our bodies immersed in water – or how to prevail the originality of a posture to compensate!

Ask Camille and her brother today if the one they still fondly call “super nanny” had no talent! I know too well the links that we weave a fork in my hand to overlook them.

My favorite “belly on legs” also holds its rank in the kitchen / © DR
My favorite “belly on legs” also holds its rank in the kitchen / © DR

Grandmother’s recipes

My great grandmother always said, “We hold a man by the belly”. She must be disappointed in her eternity having prepared my trousseau for nothing.
Today, right in the middle of confinement, I think I find her this reassuring great grandmother. Through smells, flavors … while cooking.

By opening my space-time to sensations that I will look far back, I have the feeling that I do not lose track of things.
That in this suspended moment, I reconnect with the essential that is missing in a life in which work sometimes takes up too much space. Do you smell those childhood smells that tickle your nostrils?

From the cookbook mentioned above, I used the pages more in a few days of forced withdrawal than in a year before. I forgot the tab dedicated to soft-boiled eggs to go directly to the only dish that counts since I thought about it: the pot au feu. I’ve never cooked a stew in my life. It is the right time. No more excuses for time, envy, neglected talent … well, that was counting without my butcher who closed shop! So today, I decided to push a little further than my neighborhood, to find the essential in my life, right now: a piece of meat.

Say, granny, up there, what do you think of all this? Are you proud of me