In a feeble attempt at disguising my blue mood that morning, I was preparing a pleasant lunch, hoping to serve it on the table in the south-facing courtyard if the midday sun was warm enough.
I had made an artichoke-and-tapenade quiche, and Dom's favourite crushed potatoes with black olives and olive oil - which I intended to decorate with a sprig of olive branch.
Next I was trying to follow a magazine recipe for charlotte aux trois abricots - a moist cake made with three kinds of apricot: fresh; stewed with lavender; and a whole pot of apricot jam. Like so many French recipes, it seemed to assume that time was no object, that cooking was the point of life rather than a quick dash into the kitchen to sustain it. But that was fine. I was happy enough at this table, in this room where the sun streamed through tall windows, and at that point time was irrelevant (apart from precise cooking instructions, of course; there was a certain bossiness in this magazine cook's tone that insisted concentration was required).
And it smelled wonderfully already, an olfactory elegy to life in the French countryside. The fantasy life that had seemed within reach but which was even now slipping from my grasp.
I love it when I am able to indulge in that kind of time is no object cooking. It doesn't happen often though!
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