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Recipes from my French Kitchen

Allyson Gofton

 

Allyson Gofton will feature in the latest Creative Tauranga Charitable Trust's “A Spendid Evening with …” series at the Tauranga Club on February 14th.

Gofton's been in the country's kitchens and dining rooms for about 30 years now, and after a year living and writing in Caixon at the foot of the Pyrenees, she has become a Francophile.

“We can learn a lot from them,” says Gofton.

Like not piling your plate. “When they sit down to their casserole and haricot beans they have just a spoonful,” she explains. “Then they move onto their cheese and desert.”

And our world is too fast. “We are centred on achievement and getting it done now,” adds Allyson. “France stops at noon for two hours and after the marche on Saturday, no-one goes back to work until Tuesday.”

That might explain the notion that the French don't get anything done and the economy isn't working. “But on the other hand,” she says, “they live until they are 95 and they are happy.

“Plus, French kids aren't all expected to be A graders and in the best sports teams. They're free to run and play and create their own fun. Very cool.”

And the food? It is simple, nourishing and comforting, she insists. “We only ate food that was grown within 20 kilometres of Caixon. It's produced locally and sold at the local market.”

Her book, with anecdotes strewn around the recipes, is called “Recipes from my French Kitchen”.

Allyson's favourite is the Caixon lamb – a slow cooked lamb shoulder. But there is also the French country port braise – salted pork belly, pork sausages, chicken wings and haricot beans slow cooked for nine hours in a broth.  

Gofton rates it as “the ultimate. Perfect for winter nights.”

But for gourmet foodie Allyson, the “serendipitous bonne chance” in Caixon was having foie gras and bean soup cooked for her.

Foie gras is prepared from the livers of geese and ducks which have been force fed – it is the scourge of animal rights proponents.

“It is enshrined in law in France and the EU as a traditional food,” she explains. “You could choose not to eat it and if that's your choice, then so be it.”

But an unapologetic Allyson did eat foie gras, and says: “It was sublime, outrageous. I would never have thought to put gutsy haricot beans, something so earthy and basic with something so exquisite, expensive and delicious.”

Soon Allyson Gofton will return to Caixon - a small village of 350 and a church - to launch the book amongst the artisans who loaned her their knowledge and expertise.

Photo: The bereted Goftons in Caixon town square – Allyson, Olive-Rose, Jean-Luc and Warwick. 

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