I was pleased to discover last Friday that the Ferndown Market is not monthly, as I had thought, but weekly. However the cheerful onion seller was absent.
I picked up a couple of books by Frenchwomen from the library instead. The first was about fashion and food - "French Women for All Seasons" by Mireille Guilano, who wrote the best seller "French Women Don't Get Fat". I never read that one [when I was riding round France on a pillion ten years ago, I saw dozens of plump little old French ladies walking in the towns and villages] I suspect it is more accurate to say rich Frenchwomen can choose not to get fat.
This elegant lady, who was in charge of the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Company in the USA has quite definite ideas about style and diet.
She has her own websites [here and here] In many ways she reminds me of Martha Stewart [the way I do it is the best, the only way, if you want to get it right and stay as wonderful as I am] Like MS, she has been voted as one of the worst bosses to work for! Nevertheless, there were some interesting recipes.
I may have a go at some of her soups - especially the ones needing shallots. My second French foray was into the world of decor.
This was described as '40 simple sewing, patchwork, applique and embroidery projects'
These are all very pretty - although no particularly new ideas. Everything photographed in tasteful shades of blue , grey and white. I am not sure whether things got 'lost in translation' - some of the instructions are not very clear. However the projects all use simple techniques, so it is easy to work out most things. Pretty to look at - but I don't think I will make any of these. Rating ***
My third book isn't French - it is by two women from Norway. Ellen Dyrop and Hanna Kristinsdottir have assembled a vast collection of ideas for repurposing old household utensils and linens, with a 'shabby chic' approach.
The instructions are much better in this book, and I thought the list of UK stockists and websites at the back was more helpful. But some of the ideas are a little whacky - like turning old metal thermos flasks into table lamps! I suppose in chilly Scandinavia you probably get given lots of woolly hats, so converting one into a teacosy makes sense. I've used a toast-rack as a letter rack since student days. I could make one of my biscuit tins into a clock - but I have plenty of clocks already! This book, like the previous one, was very pretty to look at, even if I do not actually create any of the projects. More skill needed for these though [metal work, drilling etc] and a good collection of vintage linens and pieces of embroidery. Rating ***
These three were all diverting reads, the last two with superb illustrations, but I am not sure I found anything especially memorable.
The two important catchphrases from the first book were
'la moitié, s'il vous plaît' ['just give me half of that, please'] - which is MG's way of dieting, to only eat half portions.
and then Always strive to be 'bien dans sa peau' [good in your skin] that is, true to your unique, outward self in addition to your inward, emotional self.
I have to give Mme Guiliano a mere * though. I found it incredibly patronising that whenever she used a French phrase, she gave the phonetic pronunciation, just in case we need to repeat it in conversation.
la moitié [lah MWAH-tyay] is bad enough, but to explain eau [oh] and bonjour [BOH((N)-zhoor] is downright insulting. Maybe it is because she is writing for the American Market - who had to have explanatory film posters which said Ratatouille [rat-tat-too-ee]