Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tasting Bergerac

I'm French! Why do think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king-a?!
Monty Python, The Holy Grail.

Next stop was dropping in on my family in Bergerac, France. I'm sure my French sounded absolutely hysterical to my hosts but they welcomed me with warm arms as they always do. Bergerac is located along the Dordogne river east of Bordeaux in the Périgord region. You can get here by train from Paris via Bordeaux or you can fly direct from London Stansted with RyanAir. The wine industry is a massive part of the region, with probably the most well known wine being the sweet white botrytis wine from Chateau Monbazillac. You have a fantastic view of the Dordogne valley from this Chateau so if you ever get there it's a must see.

In Bergerac itself you can stroll through the old city and visit this guy! Cyrano De Bergerac a famous 17th Century Philosopher. For me it was off to my cousins farms where I would spend the most of my brief stay. It was interesting for me to learn about farming in France as compared to the farming back home, that my Australian relatives are involved in. French farming can be briefly summarised as working smaller plots of lands, diversifying activities whether it be dairy, cropping cereals and or viticulture. They are also heavily subsidised by the European Union where the farmers back home fight it out by themselves with very little or no support. Its a long and complicated matter but many farmers worry about a life Post European Subsidies and when in a open market they would be forced to compete with a larger 'more efficient' international farming community.

I was really impressed with the quality of the produce from France and I believe it lives up to its reputation. The bread and cheeses were fantastic for the palette as well as all the pates and small goods which are often made in their own homes. Make sure the cheese is 'Au Lait Crue' which means 'Not Cooked' or Not Pasteurised as these cheeses offer rich flavours a far cry from those back home.

So I eventually tried my hand at farming after gorging myself with salami and cheese er... sorry... fromage! Belle or 'Beautiful' the farm dog was with me every step of the way, a kind of guiding hand that kept me on track and out of harms way.

This little fellow was preparing for life on the farm and because she didn't bear a name yet Frédéric my cousin allowed me to name her. I decided to call her 'Simpson' after the World War 1 stretcher bearer who along with his donkey personified the ANZAC legend. Not very ladylike I know but its nice to know that a piece of Australia now lives here.

It seemed like a blink of an eye and no sooner I was saying my farewells to Belle and the rest of the family and heading east back to work. It is different for me to first experience a country from the countryside, so for me it is a special place. Paris for now still eludes me and the sweet taste of Bergerac lingers.

Merci Beaucoup Vivian, Michel, Christian, Frédéric, Anna Marie et à toute la famille


Anonymous Martignago Jérôme said...

That it surprised to find a photograph of my tatie nanou on an English site! I am a cousin of Fred With the pleasure of following this blog

6:26 AM  
Blogger Hemamalini said...

Heyy Steve! Strange coincidence - I spent the last three days holidaying in Sydney! Was awesome fun:)

2:09 PM  
Blogger Steven Ryan said...

Jerome great to make your acquaintance. I had a fantastic time in Perigord. Im heading back there soon and need to get in touch with Frederic so if you hear from him let him know. Maybe i'll meet you there.
Hema good to hear you are going well. Sydney is nice but not near as fantastic as Melbourne, if you ever get down this way then make sure you let me know. Melody told me you were applying for MIT, im well impressed. Good luck with it all.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey steven,
Emma here, just had breakie and thought I would check it out. You are quite the photographer! You must have some creative bones in there somewhere...
Anyway see you in a few days but until then I though I would leave my mark.
Em. x

11:53 AM  

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