In 2004, Mom and I went on a trip. It was her first time overseas – a trip she’d been planning as long as I could remember – and somehow I got lucky enough to be her travel companion.
We started in London, took the Chunnel to Paris, then we drove south to Les Eyzies to see some cave paintings. Probably the best part of this trip was our agreement that, except for our week in Paris, we wouldn’t book hotel rooms in advance. At some point each day while I was driving (a MARVELOUS little hatchback Peugeot, which now that I think about it, reminds me a lot of Benji), Mom would look through our guide books and pick out our next hotel. She’d call – she has a much better grasp of French – and make a reservation, and then we’d spend the day making our way to our new digs.
That’s how we found The Farm. It’s actually called L’Auberge Veyret, and if you ever find yourself in the Dordogne Valley, you should go there IMMEDIATELY. It was so fortunate that we arrived there early in the day (many hotels we only got a good look at the next morning as we drove away) because we had time for a hike through the foothills surrounding the farm before dinner.
Then there was dinner. It’s a meal we have discussed for years, overshadowing everything else we ate on the trip, even in Paris. And this just shows how much my travel/life habits have changed in the last seven years: I didn’t take a SINGLE PICTURE of the food. What was I thinking?
There were farm-made apertifs and digestifs. There were pates, cheeses and fresh bread. The Dordogne is known for the ducks and geese it raises, so pate, foie gras and all other manner of duck/goose products appeared on the table over the course of the two hour meal. There was cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto. At that point in my culinary life, that was a revelation. Sweet-and-salty just works for me. Every single time.
Anyway, the point is that this meal was special. It was all grown and made on the acres we had spent our afternoon exploring. It was also delicious.
So when it came time for Mother’s Day dinner, I decided to make a (weak) attempt at recreating a tiny bit of this meal.
I served cantaloupe. That was pretty much the only similarity.
I could have made duck. We made a magnificent duck at Christmas. But I knew Mom would prefer something a little healthier, so I baked a chicken instead. That’s VERY French, right? Sure it is.
This is Engagement Chicken, a recipe published, apparently, a thousand years ago by Glamour Magazine, which has inspired 7.2 million marriage proposals since then. Which is why I will never be cooking this for anyone, ever, other than my parents. But don’t be afraid of the chicken. It was good, but it wasn’t THAT good.