A cold, damp and misty start to the day, with rain forecast: not a promising start to our day of flogging calendars in aid of the Harmonie (I mean, giving calendars away and asking for a donation) in Ste Suzanne. But, as it happens, we managed to be the first organisation to be doing the rounds this year, beating the firemen and postal workers to it, so we made a good haul.
Afterwards there is traditionally the totting up of the proceeds, analysis of results and a lunch chez Mamie Suzanne (Granny Suzanne) who is thus named, as far as I can work out, because she is the mother, grand-mother and perhaps great-grandmother of, in all, about half the musicians in the Harmonie.
I have attended the lunch a few times now, so I think I'm qualified to say that it is traditional, at least insofar as it relates to this event. It runs: munchies, soup, pot-au-feu, cheese, apple tart and coffee. We were about 28 people who sat down at a big long table.
The munchies were standard supermarket fare, offered on the table in the little plastic pots they are sold in, and eaten by the participants before the meal started, while we were waiting for everyone to arrive.
The soup is a vegetable soup (largely cabbage based, I think), thickened either with tapioca or what the French described as Perles de Japon. There was some debate as to whether Perles de Japon are the same thing as tapioca, but nobody really knew for sure.
The pot-au-feu is a hot-pot, made by boiling lumps of beef, whole carrots, whole potatoes and quartered savoy cabbage in a vegetable stock, all together in a big pot. I tried to find out what cut of beef is used, and had it patiently explained to me that you go to the butcher and ask for pot-au-feu, and that is what you get. The meat was served separately from the vegetables, and both were served drained into bowls, from which you served yourself. If you wanted, you could add mustard or a vinaigrette, which surprised me. I had always assumed vinaigrette was just for salads, but this was a chunky one, with finely chopped garlic, shallots, parsley, mustard and other herbs all mixed in. It worked well with the beef, and you could also just smear it onto the bread, where it worked well too.
Cheese was a Camembert cut into wedges and passed around in the little wooden containers it was bought in (no salad) and was followed by the apple tart, home made, and, well, tart. Commercially-made tarts and other puddings tend to err on the sweet side, so it was good to eat a proper tart that lived up to its name in the nicest possible way.
And we made a bit over a couple of thousand euros. Nay bad.