La vie vegetarienne


(Wendy Wise) #1

La Vie Végétarienne





Like many people these days I eat less meat because I believe
it’s “a good thing”, both for me and for the environment plus I really love
good fresh vegetables, but I was wondering how proper vegetarians cope in
France where vegetarianism is less common.
The Vegetarian society says there are around four million vegetarians in
the UK, that’s about 7% of the population and in France, according to an
official survey carried out about ten years ago, it was about 1.5% of the
population and is now thought to be closer to 2%, coincidentally, the same as
the percentage of hunters!



So if the number of vegetarians is rising, then a veggie’s life
in France should be getting easier, more vegetarian restaurants and vegetarian
options, veggie ingredients and convenience foods readily available in the
shops, right? “Wrong” says Pat from
Confolens, who’s been coming to France regularly for over thirty years and now
lives here permanently. She tells me
that things have barely changed in all that time, with restaurants still
offering the tired old trinity of pizza, omelette or goat’s cheese salad “We’ve
found it almost impossible to have a set menu anywhere, other than a few classy
restaurants which have a dedicated veggie menu”. She singles out La Grange aux Oies at Nieuil
in the Charente as a noble exception and says she has occasionally found “real”
vegetarian restaurants in cities like Paris and Aix en Provence.



For a chef’s opinion, I turned to Aaron Tighe from the Circle of
Misse, near Thouars in Deux Sèvres ”When
I eat out in France, my heart does go out to vegetarians as French restaurants
still see the vegetable as a mere garnish, mostly an overcooked one at that. When working in Strasbourg a few years back,
I was also amused to find the ubiquitous lardon in an otherwise vegetarian
onion tart.” Aaron regularly cooks for
vegetarians who flock to the Circle for courses not only in cookery (including
vegetarian cookery), creative writing, painting and drawing.



What do the French make of their vegetarian friends and
neighbours and what about entertaining?
Pat says “Our French friends are gradually getting used to our eating
habits, although I think they find them strange! We had lots of jokes about “verdure” but they
do make an effort for us.” Her
neighbours are big meat eaters, but Pat says she always cooks entirely veggie
meals regardless of who visits. I think
Pat may be making a few converts too, because she says that “when eating out
French friends often enthused more about our food than their own meat-based
meal”!



A vegetarian lifestyle is one thing, but a vegetarian
business...in France? Well, at Chambon,
in the Charente Maritime, out near the Atlantic Coast you’ll find the Tomlinson
family who ran their own highly successful vegetarian restaurant in Cardiff and
moved to France six years ago to set up “Tomlins” An equally successful
vegetarian B and B and cookery school where they welcome guests from all over
the world. I spoke to Lorraine and asked
her what kind of reaction they’d got from their French neighbours. She told me about their friendly
neighbourhood plumber who was puzzled as to what they did actually eat “We
don’t eat anything with a face”, she told him, after a moment’s thought he said
“Oh well, you can eat oysters then!”. She told me that they didn’t come here to
convert the locals, but because the French generally are interested in food,
many enrol in Tomlins’ one day courses, particularly those which feature the
cuisines of other countries, such as the vegetarian cuisine of India, Italy and
the Middle East.



School meals for vegetarian children can be tricky, Lorraine had
to go to her daughter’s school and talk to the headmaster after a dinner-lady
had tried to get her daughter to eat carrots that had been cooked with a beef
stew and, even he, thought it would be OK to serve the child ham, because it’s
not a red meat. Robert from Coutras in the Gironde had an even
worse tale to tell
mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:
FR"> “
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:FR">my daughter was made to eat lamb, though we had
clearly said to the school she was veggie.
She threw up over the table and several other children and they always
gave her meat free dinners after that!”.



Shopping seems to be less of a problem, with products like
Quorn, veggie sausages and soy based products available from shops catering for
the expat community like Cooper’s Epicerie who hold a wide range of veggie
foods at their shop and on-line and will deliver anywhere in France. But beware, says Pat, of apparently
vegetarian items in French supermarkets, closer inspection often reveals that
they “may contain possible traces of fish or shellfish”.



Like most keen cooks Pat is an avid recipe collector so I’m sure
she’ll enjoy the following recipe from Aaron Tighe, which as he says is
“perfect at this time of year” and a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. You’ll find lots more delicious recipes
(vegetarian and meat and fish dishes) in Aaron’s Food Blog on the Circle of
Misse website and details of all their fabulous courses.



Generally, it seems that the vegetarian lifestyle is respected
by the French and with advocates like Pat and the Tomlinsons, the true meaning
of what it takes to be a vegetarian is becoming more widely understood.



"Tahoma","sans-serif";color:#333333"">Aaron’s Beetroot Risotto



font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Ingredients
(serves four)



Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:
FR">·
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">90g\3oz unsalted butter



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">2 shallots or 1
medium onion, finely chopped



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">240g\8oz Beetroot,
one medium or two small ones (see below)



Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:
FR">·
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">240g\8oz\1½ cups Arborio or Canaroli rice



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">½ glass dry white
wine or Vermouth



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Generous litre of
vegetable stock, warmed and kept simmering



Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:
FR">·
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">3 Tablespoons finely snipped chives



Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:
FR">·
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">3 Tablespoons chopped mint



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Grated zest of
half a lime



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">100g Parmigiano
Reggiano, plus more for the table, freshly grated



mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">·
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Salt and freshly
ground black pepper



"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;
mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:FR">Tools of the Trade



Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:
FR">·
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">Heavy bottomed casserole or pan



"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;
mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:FR">Method



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">If you are
starting with raw beetroot scrub the beet(s) under running water but do not
pierce. The greens, if present, can be cut to within an inch of the beet, but
leave the roots intact as beetroot has a tendency to bleed.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">There are two way
to cook these:



Tahoma;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:FR"">1.
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Toss in a little
olive oil, wrap in kitchen foil and roast for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven
190°C\375°F\gas mark 5 (reduce temperature by 10% if using a fan oven).
"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:FR"">Leave
to cool.



Tahoma;color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;mso-fareast-language:FR"">2.
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Place in a
non-metallic dish with a tablespoon of water. Cover and microwave at full power
for six minutes.
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR;
mso-fareast-language:FR">Leave to cool.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Peel the cooled
beetroot and cut into small dice.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Place the stock in
a pot, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a bare simmer.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Take a heavy
bottomed casserole or pot and melt a third of the butter in a large pan and
gently sauté the shallots or onion until soft but not coloured. Add the
beetroot and continue to cook for two minutes.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Add the rice and
stir thoroughly, until the rice just begins to crackle. Pour over the wine or
vermouth and allow it to evaporate, no need to stir. Add a couple of ladlefuls
of stock, and when it has been absorbed add a ladleful more. Continue to add
ladlefuls of stock, once each ladleful has been absorbed. It normally takes
approx 17-18 minutes to cook.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">If you run out of
stock top up with a ladleful of boiling water. Once the rice has reached a
porridge-like consistency, but is still firm to the bite, remove the pan from
the heat. Season to taste, being careful with salt if it is a commercial stock.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Gently stir in the
remaining
11.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:FR">2
mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Tahoma;color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">⁄
mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:
FR">3
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">
"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:
FR">of butter, the herbs, and the freshly grated cheese. Cover and leave to
rest for up to five minutes 'Mantecare'. Taste once more to check seasoning,
then bring to the table and serve with extra cheese.



font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">Suggestion



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">If serving as a
main course, I add 60g\2oz\¼ cup of toasted walnuts, finely chopped at the same
time as the herbs and cheese.



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">



"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:
FR">Tomlins Vegetarian guest House and Cookery School



http://www.tomlinsinfrance.com/



0color:navy"">5 46 35 65 42



9.5pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:FR">



Circle of Misse




http://www.circleofmisse.com



EN-US"">Tel 05 49 68
14 70



EN-US"">



Coopers Epicerie



http://coopersshopargelessurmer.com/



Tel 04 68 88 04 27