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VAST SUPPER


VAST SUPPER

We always get asked in the food world what was our best ever meal we had eaten and most responses are the likes of mega Michelin lunch or dinner blowouts in some celebrity temple of gastronomy back in the formative years of a cooking career. It is true I have a had a good few of these in my day and they are very memorable, I have picture perfect recall of how the plates looked and tasted and this was long before mobile phones caught every dish coming out to the table. I was lucky to cook in some

places too that provided some high end pretty fancy food.

    When it comes to posh nosh the gastronomic levels can be raised just as much on the domestic front and it was a home cooked meal that gave me my most memorable gourmet delight. The time and place is important in these anecdotes too and for me I was an inspirational eighteen year old just finished secondary school and about to embark on catering college to get my official stripes. However in that summer after my exams I was lucky to be able to avail of an opportunity to spend a couple of weeks on a farm in the west of France.


It all came about through a family friend who arranged for me to just make such a big trip. I was to take a train, a boat and a train on my own to rock up in Paris and from there to be driven by him and his friend for five hours until we reached his parents farm in the south west.


It would be a late evening arrival on a hot august night and as we parked up around midnight and got out of the car I smelled a waft of culinary aromas drift past my nose. There had been a supper left out for us and as we entered the farm kitchen the dinner table was adorned by what can only be described as a feast fit for a king. There was crusty white bread from the local bakery with a slab of real butter. Then there were a couple of bottles of decent red wine already opened for us and breathing away and a white in the fridge.

Then there was beautiful chunky country pate and charcuterie, salad, vegetables, dressing and ripe sliced local melon. There was also a rich, thick and deeply flavoured ragout or stew sitting in a pot on the stove, a couple of melting, oozy cheeses almost running off their plate onto the table. Then finally there was a homemade cherry tart still warm from the oven. Now where does one start when met with that explosion of yumminess as a true introduction to France.


The answer is at the beginning and working our way right through to the end and for the next couple of hours we ate and drank it up and I just sat there so satiated with the experience that I just knew I had chosen the right profession for my career. After so much travelling and eating on the hoof to get there.


It was just the meal that would be so appreciated but also make such a lasting impression on me. I was very happy the next morning when I awoke to be able to thank his mammy who produced such glorious hospitality. I also cooked for her on some of the days during my stay there as well as helping out on the farm. I was only reminded of it lately when I was able to return the compliment by a visit from the very same person who gave me that valuable experience thirty nine years ago this year.

So yes our favourite meals are just as much a question of who we were with and when it took place as to the type of place and food consumed at the time. So it’s to the late great Madame Savariau I must raise my glass to as she sadly now looks down on us from above but I am forever grateful to have savoured her culinary prowess in providing my favourite meal of all time.

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