Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Holiday & Chocolate Bar on Bread

Saturday afternoon I was thinking of the holiday I spent in a farm when I was small. I remember this vacation very well and most particularly how I first made my own tartine au chocolat.
Why not making one right now? I cut one slice of my homemade no-knead bread (I follow Paola’s recipe and add quinoa and flax seeds. @ paosinis - cannot find her blog "thekitchennomads" today...strange}, cut it in half, put a bar of dark chocolate on top of each part and toasted it in my small oven (no patience to wait for the chocolate to melt naturally). Nice & sweet souvenirs!

I was 9-10 years old and it was summer holiday. My Mum had a varicose vein removed so I was sent to one of my father's colleagues who had a farm. His wife took care of me during my Mum’s convalescence.

There were not many things to do. The family had 2 teenage daughters. I cannot recall what I did in the morning but remember very well my afternoon activities - namely 1) bringing the goats to graze in the fields, and 2) making a chocolate toast.
I would accompany Jo, the youngest daughter of the family, to the fields. We would sit on the grass reading or knitting. Jo was busy reading women’s magazines that I was not allowed to look at. She was not talkative. Anyway, what can a teenage girl talk about with a little girl? About two hours later we would return home with the flock, the herding dog running back and forth to keep the flock together making sure none of the agile creatures was left behind.

Then, came the time for our goûter or afternoon snack! The latter consisted of one thick slice of country bread and one chocolate bar. My Mum would also give us chocolate and bread but I had never put my chocolate bar on top of the bread and waited for the former to melt. The 2 daughters showed me how to carefully expose the open-sandwich in the sun on top of a stone wall along the edge of the courtyard. Depending on the energy of the sun on that day the chocolate would melt more or less faster. This activity would keep me busy for a while. This was how we made our own chocolate spread. Not quite the same as the famous one with crunchy bits and the hazelnut’s flavour but still a delicious and creamy one!

Love the smooth chocolate!

More about this holiday….
In the evening I sometimes went to see the goats being milked. I remember trying to milk one. I could not grasp the teats properly and the animal kept moving. The farmer’s wife quickly stopped me as she was afraid the goat would be stressed and the milk not good or even worse the mammal would not let the milk out of her udder. Thus I only tried once.

I think that this was quite boring at times. Although I liked the rural environment, its fresh air and fresh produce (cheese and bread!) there wasn't much to do for a little girl.
Many parents today, especially in Hong Kong, would certainly look down on this kind of “useless” vacation.
It was certainly another time and another place!

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