Brussels Sprouts and Boots

Psalms 37: 23-24

With the exception of the Blacksmith-do-it-yourself adventure a while ago, the Gite meals have been superb. It is now the expectation that the two hour adventure that the Cuisine will be wonderful. Almost a certainty.

We stayed at a former Carmelite Nunnery last night. The rooms were fine and the showers were great. When we sat down for dinner I knew something was up. No wine. The ex-nun sitting across from me explained that many formerly addicted people work in the large Gite and that there is no serving wine at the table. OK, I can survive one night.

They grow most of what they feed you. Their best crop is Brussels Sprouts. The bean and vegetable soup was fine even without bread which is really strange. The main course was Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Gizzards. Could have really used some wine. The concoction was edible but a big no on seconds. We then had a cheese plate with walnuts and prunes. I thought we were being set up for a long night. The dessert was a bread pudding and some left over cous cous pastries. I continued to smile and eat what I could.

All through this remarkably short meal, less than an hour, our French friend Christian from Cannes kept smiling. We had clearance from the nun to down a small bottle of Armagnac, a relative of Cognac, after dinner in the garden. We downed the bottle with great gusto and the Brussels Sprout dinner was behind us. We did discuss the cuisine of Provence and we understood that this meal was the exception to Gascon cooking and an aberration for a French kitchen.

The Japanese are not the only folks who ask you to doff your shoes upon arrival. Now pilgrim boots are usually something to behold. They bring with them quite a bit of the surrounding country including mud and things that stick to mud. There is a rack where you remove your boots under the watchful eye of the receptionist. You also deposit your reliable walking batons near your boots. There is usually a box of wadded newspaper for you to stuff in your boots. The theory is the paper absorbs some of the moisture. Of course, if the boots were not stored in the damp entryway and were allowed to actually dry, you would not have mushrooms growing in your cold boots in the morning. We are used to it and no one seems to want our boots.

The hike today was in overcast and a misty sprinkle or two. We donned our ponchos to protect our packs and suffered no wetness. There were a few mud patches and a couple of strange and misleading trail markings. Caused us no particular problem. Completed our 17 km hike in a little more than four hours. Passed by plenty of wheat fields and more vineyards. Saw some farmers pruning the sucker vines. Farmers are planting sunflowers and more row crops. Very tranquil except for the snorting tractors. The bridge was built in 1246 to keep pilgrim feet dry.

Since we reached our destination before the Gite opened, we had a nice restaurant lunch of omelet, salad and fries. Brussels Sprouts are a fading memory.

Evidently this is a big French holiday weekend and the Gites are all full. Our hostess, Anita made an extra bed for me since we are actual pilgrims and not weekend hikers. I am going to see if I can get her to help me and call ahead for a couple more nights as we have not really had to worry about a space until now.

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The smiling cook is Anita. She is preparing for fourteen in her little kitchen.

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