A Quick Lunch in France!… Langoustine....
I LOVE THEM!!
I know that the title, A Quick Lunch in France is a contradiction in terms, but stick with me on this… Over here in the UK it might be a ‘tad’ early for this recipe but bearing in mind the weather predicted for this bank holiday weekend.. This is what I will be eating.. Langoustine.. For me it is never too early for this recipe nor too late for that matter! Way back in the day I lived and worked in Northern France with my then partner, now husband on a project that was frankly eye opening in terms of how different cultures operate within the interior design and construction business, And lunch! To be blunt there was no comparison between them … To give you one example; the British workforce we took over there with us, would sit down for their strict hour long lunch break with their white sliced plastic bread, which as you might appreciate, was not easy to obtain from the local boulangerie, so they had to retreat for this delicacy to the out of town Supermarche, and even then they would complain that the bread did not taste like the bread from home! The obvious seemed to escape them that we were in France!
One of our fine band of merry men even once went into the local Boulangerie and requested a Cornish pastie! Having been met with complete confusion from the French staff.. He came out of the shop and shouted across the road to all of us who were sat at the French Cafe opposite. “I don’t understand this country they don’t even have Cornish Pasties and they call themselves a bakery!” Scandalous!
On site, the British band of workman would sit huddled together at lunchtime peeling their way through sweaty sandwiches that were stuck to the cling film in a sort of congealed mass, complaining about the quality of the cheese in ‘this country’... Their beverage of choice was of course tea that you could stand a spoon in such was the strength! And they would observe ‘the little known to them Frenchman’ form a safe distance. The French workers would arrive at work in general at least hour and half later than the British workforce. The Brits would stop for lunch at 1pm, sharp…
The French workforce would meander around the site in the morning making either appreciating sounds at what was going on or tutting noises with the obligatory ‘non’ word or even the odd ‘merde’! Come 11:30am the French workforce would down tools and return to their vans, out of the back these burly Breton’s would retrieve their large baskets, beautifully covered in a red chequered table clothes and then search for the perfect shady spot in order to set out their luncheon fair.
The table cloth would be spread out in the appropriate place and out of the basket the produce would be laid out with meticulous precision, always with a French baguette in pride of place. Reaching into the bottom of the basket out would come the picnic stove, which was duly lit. Then for the next hour the site would be tormented by the most beautiful smells of French cuisine being created from scratch with the freshest of materials… The British looking on in a sort of bemused wonderment..
Most of these Frenchmen would have the minimum of three courses, which were all eaten at leisure each complimented by a small bottle of wine to enhance the flavour of each course… Building site or not .. This was style..
The Brits would reluctantly peel away from this vision of culinary beauty and return to work, leaving their French counterparts to continue amiably with their feast…Finally having had their fill, they would throw the leftover meat to the neighbour’s dog that had wandered up the lane having been lured by the beautiful smell of the cooking.. Carefully they would pack away their basket and return it to their van, before perhaps putting in another hour or two of relaxed work on the site… The British workforce carried on regardless in the heat of the day, until the five o’clock when they would down tools in line with the British deadline…
As the months wore on, slowly there became a little more ‘entente cordiale’ between the two workforces and although none of the Brits would be caught with a Bunsen burner cooking their own grub, certainly their application of French cuisine and lifestyle was growing on them.. Not least two of the British men managed to increase the population of the local village by impregnating two of the women.. ‘entente cordiale’ indeed…
Where are we in all this luncheon behaviour, I hear you ask … Well mostly we were on site first thing in the morning and then around lunchtime we would disappear off to negotiate on various materials and furniture deals for the project… This sojourn would always include stopping of for lunch at some beautiful location… Hard life this! Quite often our trails through the local brocantes and flea markets would lead us to the sea front.. Yes I know a very, very hard life! We would rock up to a restaurant on the sea front opposite the beach or harbour for our ‘le dejeuner’..
If you think we are having a too “cushty” time of it… I have to tell you that it is impossible to work between 12 noon and 2pm in the afternoon, everything shuts for a long leisurely lunch. This being Brittany, the actual closing time was more like 11.30am - 2.30 – 3pm! So what else can you do but eat!... This is France..
I will eat any fish I love it and also anything with the good old French Fries! And a carafe of wine… Has to be done, but my all-time favourite, was and is Langoustine… In one of our favourite restaurant in Cancale, they did a version of Langoustine with garlic, hint of chilli and cream.. It was just divine …
There are so many tales from our time in France, I will tell you in another story, sometime soon… But here is my recipe for this weekend.. “Vive la France”…. Prendre Plaisir…. [Enjoy!]
Ingredients for Langoustine…
A pinch of sea salt - plus a little pinch more!
freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice , to taste
Ingredients for Spiked Toms...
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Virgin olive oil
lemon juice - to taste
French beans buttered
More & Extra Sides…
Look it could not get any simpler than this!
You know how to prepare the French bread… “Just cut it and bite!”
Chips &/or French Fries.. Well this depends on how you like them, whatever is easy for you, which can range from oven chips to fat home cooked potatoes wedges, or the ubiquitous French Fries.. My favourite.. Whichever it is just time them to be ready for the main event…
Blanch or steam the French beans until they are al dente. Once cooked plunge into a bowl of cold iced water, to keep the colour whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
Mix together all the ingredients for the mayonnaise sauce -Sides…And put into a serving bowl… Easy …
Whether you cook on the Barbeque or on the hob, heat the three pans, first one on the heat – Add the oil and the tomatoes, cook with a bit offoil over them, to fast track the process, after a couple of minutes add the chilli and the garlic, keep an eye out to make sure the ingredients don’t catch, season to taste. Heat the second pan for the Langoustine slosh in the olive oil and butter as it melts add the garlic and the Langoustines, I don’t like to overcook the garlic, so I add it early. Cook them for 2-3 minutes. Half way through cooking the Langoustine, drain the French beans and add them to the third heated pan with the butter and cook fast, flipping when necessary. Take all three pans straight from the barbeque to the table… The juices in the pans are wonderful to dunk your bread in… Don’t for get to squeeze in a little lemon juice…. And as they say ….