Mark and Toni’s 2019 Learning Odyssey: Week 2 en Provence, France.

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Bonjour tout le Monde.

Sitting on the deck of our cabin/caravan I’m listening to the second semi-final of the World Cup 1 Day International Cricket between England and Australia. The winners meet New Zealand this Sunday! How exciting, who to support if England beat the Aussies today?

The temperature is higher than anticipated, why ever I thought any different is a mystery to me and my readers I’m sure. Consequently it’s taken a while to adapt and become acclimatised. A “high” point was the 24 degrees on Monday night. I was oven ready by day break.

A thought on last weeks experiences was to perhaps look at some of the research I’ve done of late regarding Southern Europe’s nutritional research to add some sense to my ramblings. I have also got into the habit of looking at the various foods we consume detailing their nutritional and health benefits. I must confess being very surprised by the revelations and will post on this some. Veal liver looks amazing regarding Vitamin A!

Unsurprisingly too, we are eating differently. The 16:8 Fasting regime is working well. I thought it would be tricky but having a 2 day grace period to have European breakfasts is helpful. Sleep has been tricky, some good, some bad and moving has seriously slowed down but I’m beginning to understand  (thank you Annette for your German frankness) that it is a holiday and places to visit like The Pont du Gard, Aix – en – Provence and Arles are destinations needing four wheels.

We are really enjoying the gentler pace of week 1, that was crazy intense considering the jet lag. The driving is easier, not so scary, helped massively by an unswerving navigator in Toni. I’m finding the tech on the car perplexing. I drive an old Volvo back in NZ, these new cars are a digital nightmare for the likes of old me. Come on driverless cars. NZ will probably be the last to have them, sadly as the driving standard there and “road toll” is crazy bad.

French markets have dominated our trips this week. I’m going to leave Toni, the culinary consultant on this journey to describe this, she’s passionate about this, more so than me. I just open my mouth and let all my senses go into overload. I’ll post this next so keep your eyes “peeled”. I’ll just poetically attempt to describe the people and place.

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So as Toni and I watch a film called “Paris can wait” with Diane Lane, a road trip film heavy on French food, culture and national character from an American visitors perspective. I can’t help but wonder whether eating en France, in this case, the Mediterranean south has health benefits. There are many studies that have looked at these but the one’s detailed below show a little of higher end quality but also, in the case of PREDIMED how important the exacting science of them can be found to be less than accurate and detail is everything.

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Screenshot 2019-07-11 23.37.30

PREDIMED controversy @ https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/898110#vp_3

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Screenshot 2019-07-12 00.59.59

Evidence From Clinical Trials @ www.medscape.com/viewarticle/504600_4

Reflections on Lambesc and Provence

Toni’s Diary Entry Thursday 11th, July

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Dear Diary,

Apologies for the lack of entries since my arrival in France but I have been so involved with experiencing my environment that writing has taken a back seat. 

First major distraction is food (naturally). I have finally eaten salad everyday in addition to veal liver, pork chop, cheese (goat/chevre, Comte) and saucisson/cured meat.  I’m in tomato heaven, too. Provencale vegetables are packed with flavour and NOT packed in plastic. Even Supermarkets here seem more ” Market”. Where possible Mark and I are buying totally local and we can honestly say we have produced zero food waste. We have managed to forage herbs just outside the campsite: thyme and rosemary dried by nature in the hot Provencal sun. 

Two days ago a visit to a local goat farm has supplied us with a variety of cheeses from frais (just three days old) to demi-sec (two weeks old). There were 33 goats, all named beginning with the letter N. I hugged and thanked the goats (my favourites were Naf Naf and Nounou. Mark liked Nebulues). 

The wine, Rose, yummy….. difficult not to over indulge.  On the plus side the 16 hour fasting continues, but not today because we went to market in Aix-en-Provence.

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The weather has been hot, eased by the occasional thunderstorm and gentle breeze. With the sunshine and fresh local tasty food I really do feel healthier. A bit more sleep would be a bonus but at least now the mosquitoes are leaving me alone (many thanks to all my Facebook friends for their mosquito repellent tips)

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Mark’s Dear Diary, En Provence Sunday, 7th July.

The road was straight and to the point. The point being the market at Pellisane. It was Sunday but no church bells could be heard. The mass of people moved slowly, like waves, to their centre of concentration, which ever stall caught their eye or the scribbled words on their hastily written shopping list. At first glance, from the eyes of an amateur in these affairs, the market looked a small affair, one long street zoned off with tightly packed stalls of every shape, size and variety. All seemed disorganised and jumbled, organizationless, but I’m certain all stall holders knew there patch and were accustomed to the area they flew their commercial flag having done so for many, many moons. Dogs, children, babies in prams or in the arms of their guardians swelled in the midst of human traffic. It was truly a sensory sceptical and event. The market grew as we saw over the heads of people around us alternative avenues of trade going left and right, east and west. We would remember and return to them, as was the difficulty in diverting and losing each other in the melee.

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The human sounds blended with the intensity of the constant insect hum. Super market music could not compete. This was no supermarket, Artisans and stall holder spoke out to the crowd like a demanding Priest to a silent, sleepy congregation. Please, thank you, good day or good-bye was heard frequently at every turn, the slow momentum held us up every so often as a conversation became elaborate, no one moaned or complained, patience it seemed was in abundance. Food smells were met with occasional tasting to add, additionally, flavour and meaning to the sights before our eyes, to tempt us to purchase, not to gaze, but to part with real money. Only out of the corner of one’s eye, if you cared to carefully look, emblazoned up a wall nearby was a predictable sign of McDonalds and a direction to its operation in a nearby street. Modernity had to try a lure the blessed to the fiery hell of the ultra processed, commercial, and ultra predictable.

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Fruit drinks and sugar sweetened beverages were the only semblance of that vast beast being consumed that hot Sunday. Far less by volume than what we saw a few days previously in Borough Market, London mercifully. We’ve avoided these things, on purpose. Why the need for that when nature and seasonality was so barely naked amidst us? Soft berry fruits, fresh from the less sun beaten north, super coloured, gnarled and misshapen peppers and tomatoes were present and incorrect but just as tasty, forgotten by the big food chains as imperfect. Even artisan bread, weighed and sliced to order, joint the throng of the nutritionally possible and plausible. Comte fromage, in huge wheels and chunks was cut to preference by its maker, cigarette in steady hand. The price was discussed after it was chopped, sealed and weighed, we just obliged. Pure theatre.

Lambesc is a great place to stay. We didn’t really have prior knowledge of Provence but Toni took a guess and got it perfect. Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Rose wine, local markets, Lavender, Sunflowers, honey, foraged herbs and the pulsing hum of insects everywhere. There is a passion for the land, for community and provenance. History is within reach, the Cathars, Templars, Pilgrims and Romans. The French people still smoke more than I’m used too, still walk with the traditional baguette under their arm and look as if they are totally classless. We enjoyed many things, some too much, others a lot these than before. Would we come back again? Qui!

Captains Log – Supplementary 2

It’s our 33rd wedding anniversary today, the years seemed to have passed quickly. I’m still 20 years of age in my heart. I’m super happy to still be here with Toni in our collaborative journey with a bottle of wine that tastes like her and a glass that’s never empty.

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