This week has been my half term and I spent the first half of it in Rotterdam and the second half in Montpellier where I stayed with my twin’s French exchange. Rotterdam was a beautiful city with lots to see including a beautiful market hall and we had cupcakes in a cute teashop. We cycled across the blowy Erasmus bridge and eventually shivered our way to the closest restaurant to us, Vapiano. I then went to stay in Montpellier with my French exchange. She was a formidable host, welcoming me into her small house ‘in the countryside’ with open arms and lots of laughs. She talks at ninety miles an hour and showed me hilarious birthday videos. It was a happy few days! Montpellier is slightly smaller and warmer than Bordeaux, but there are similar buildings and several picturesque squares with bars and individual shops lining them. It was also a food haven for me. Amélie showed me some incredible traditional dishes that I’m going to share with you, and attempt to recreate them soon.
A relatively well-known dish, tartiflette is the ultimate winter warmer but goes well with salad. It was actually invented quite recently, its name coined in the 1990s. It consists of potatoes, onions, lardons and tartiflette cheese (reblochon), baked in the oven until the cheese is bubbling and brown. The strong cheese with the salty lardons and soft potato rounded off with subtly sweet onions…dreamy dreamy. I copied down her recipe and it will be going into my collection.
Une tielle is a slightly older dish, originating from Italy but swimming over to a neighbouring town of Montpellier, Sète. It is a pie whose filling consists of finely chopped squid, octopus or cuttlefish in a spicy tomato sauce. She warned me that most people she knows do not like it but that it was one of her favourite dishes. I’ve said before in this blog: I love trying new food and more often than not I like it! This pie was no different. I love seafood and the flavours of the sea with pastry and tomato mingled beautifully. I felt like I was two steps from a sandy beach and blue-white waves. This recipe for it looks lovely – https://meltingpotaufeu.wordpress.com/recipes/main-course/tielle-setoise/.
When I was studying the epics from Antiquity we looked at the nature of hospitality in those times. It was of the utmost importance those days and Zeus protected the institution – Paris violating the terms of hospitality when he stole Helen away contributed to the fall of Troy. Staying with my friends showed me this week that when you feel truly welcomed everything becomes sun-tinted and it is a beautiful feeling to have.