While there is something to do year around, July and August is packed with events. Even though there are hoards of tourists, village life continues much unchanged. An example is the meal I attended with friends in the lovely village of Embres – Castlemaure.
The event begins with the apéritif. There are two tables with bottles of water, juices, wine (of course) and even boxed wine. Being Embres – Castelmaure we were treated to the wine produced there. I would confidently argue that it is some of the finest in the region and beyond. There are also trays of bite-sized treats such as olives, pizza or quiche. The baskets on these tables hold mounds of another local favorite, Courgette Beignets. A small donut/fritter with bits of grated courgette (zucchini) that is fried golden brown. Unfortunately, they are so popular and despite the vast amounts, they were gone before I could get a photo. However, if you would like to try them for yourself, here is the recipe I use when called upon to help with food for an event.
1 pound (about 2 medium) courgettes
1 teaspoon salt
* 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
10 sprigs parsley finely chopped
* 1 medium-large clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
Grate courgettes into a medium bowl then press out as much of the moisture as possible. The easiest way I have found is to put the grated courgettes into a clean dish-towel and wring it until you get no more liquid. Transfer back into the bowl and add salt, lemon zest, parsley, garlic, pepper and eggs. Mix well to combine. Slowly add flour stirring so no lumps form.
Heat 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil in a large saute pan over medium – high heat until oil sizzles when you drop in a small amount of courgette mix onto the pan and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and turn beignets cook until golden. Bon appétit!
Note: Ingredients two marked with the * are ones I added. However, the recipes given me for the first batch I was asked to make were all different and there has been slight variations with the ones I have sampled. Each cook likes to add their own special touch. You can delete the garlic and/or lemon zest as you choose.
I choose to include the beignet recipe as Paella is a traditional Spanish dish. Yet being so close to Spain, it is very popular here in the south of France. While the Paella was simmering away everyone circulated greeting friends and making new ones. Although it was a village event and I live nearby, I was made most welcome as were the others who do not live in the village. There was a small band made up of musicians from surrounding villages. They played until the meal began.
Each table had several pitchers of wine (Rosé and Rouge), Bottles of water, Baguettes and more was supplied as needed. When the Paella was ready we took our seats and the feasting began. After the main course plates of Brie were passed around quickly followed by wonderfully ripe nectarines and peaches. Eventually we moved on to ice creams. Like all french meals, coffee was served after dessert. A good time was had by all.
When you visit France, remember even the smallest villages have much to offer. Embres – Castelmaure . The last census in 2008 recorded the population at 150 people. I highly recommend a visit and a visit to the area demands that you check out their wines. You will not be disappointed.