Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Duck Experience

Yesterday we had a tour and lunch at a local duck farm/ processing place.

What a great experience! We were there at the invitation of our friends Annabel & Donald. They have organized a large group of their American friends into coming to France for a few days. They call it the "French Experience" and have laid on lots of great sightseeing, eating and examples of things French. everybody is having a great time & seeing France in a way few tourists get to.

We along with some other 'locals' were invited to join the party for the Duck Experience. This took place in Monteils a village not far away. M. Delmas the proprietor is a real character to begin with & he delights in doing the tour & the hosting. We saw the whole operation from chicks, to feeding, to XXX. Then we went through the plant where the ducks are turned into magret, foie gras, pate, rillettes and a whole plethora of duck products. Next we were given aperitifs (a very nice local wine & pruneau concoction) and tastes of the various products that were on sale.

We then went upstairs to a very large dining hall for our lunch. There were 31 of us in "the French Experience" party. We were seated at a very long table. Across the room was an even longer table filled with French guests. The festivities opened with one of the French ladies making a nice short speech about how nice it was to see an American group enjoying France. She was given a nice hand and many glasses were raised in salute. Our first course was a delicious vegetable soup served family style with crusty bread. (I should mention that jugs of red & rose wine and water were present all along the table. When any of them was empty you just got up & refilled it from the appropriate cask.) This was followed by salad Averyonaise which is lettuce, vinaigrette, walnuts and duck gesiers. There were also bits of pate in it. Absolutely delicious! The main course was pan fried potatoes with garlic & herbs (sauteed in duck fat, naturally) and duck breast (Maigret) with a foie gras stuffing. Very nice indeed. Dessert was two kinds of open faced tart; prune & fig. M. Delmas came around serving eau de vie out of a hideous duck shaped flagon.

Fortified with food & wine the speeches and singing started. Songs were traded with the French doing one then the Americans doing another. Normally, the French seem better at this as they seem to know more of the words, but this American crowd held their own very well. Their were speeches praising D-day and there were speeches praising Lafayette. Many toasts were raised & there was even a bit of dancing. Finally everybody went home feeling very good and convinced more than even that the entente cordial is alive, well and living happily in rural France.

Vive La France! Vive La Annabel & Donald! What a great thing to do for your friends.

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