The Arrival of Johanna and Richard

With the arrival of Johanna and Richard (Annie’s daughter and son-in-law) from London, we are now 8 to dinner. As both Annie & Johanna are vegetarians, Tim decides that he wants to make his Salmon with coriander and lemon zest rub, and risotto. Tim, Peta and I venture into Digoin in search of a salmon filet.

On our way, we run into Claudette, who offers us “Blets” (Swiss Chard) from her garden. We make arrangements to pick it up on the way back from town.

The grocery store that might have a filet is the one that is furthest away – a good hour’s walk. But it is mostly down hill and we have much to talk about. The day is hot, but with a breeze, and although it is 4:30 in the afternoon, it seems just the right time of day to set out on such an adventure.

The supermarket offers a good selection of cheeses and we make sure to pick up our favourite old goat cheese – the very small rounds that encourage tiny tastes on the tongue. The fish section is small, and although there are chunks of salmon they are small and expensive. Tim is about to seal the deal anyway, when we find someone to ask about anything that might be in the back.

Alas, no, there is no whole salmon, but would this large trout, on special today, due? It is about 3 kg of goodness and Tim is ecstatic. We ask if she can pack it in ice for us, but we didn’t quite get our meaning across as she packs up a bag of ice separately. No matter, we pack fish and ice into the backpack and head home.

I have the wine and gin and tonics in my pack, Tim the fish & cheeses, Peta the lettuce and other items in a basket. We head out for Bel Air, distinctly feeling the hills as we head higher with each step. Tim’s pack is dripping down his legs – we are not sure if it is ice or trout juice. What is the bear population of Burgundy?

We arrive at Claudette’s, very hot and sweaty, and accept a large bag of huge Swiss Chard stalks and 3 beautiful courgettes. She tells us how to cook the Chard – it is a complicated explanation that my meager French cannot keep up with. It involves stripping the leaves from the stalks, stripping the veins from the stalks, chopping the stalks finely, shredding the leaves thinly, cooking the stalk bits, putting the leaves on top to steam, draining and then serving the whole with cream. Which Peta does, brilliantly, to go with the fish and risotto. The colours of the meal are vibrant and the eight of us are bonded by food.

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her book THESE ARE NOT THE WORDS was published in April 2022 by Groundwood Books. Previous books include The Pact, (Red Deer Press) which was listed on the 2017 USBBY Outstanding International Books List; selected for the 2017 ILA Young Adults' Readers Choice List; Nominated for 2017 Snow Willow Award; and listed in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at Photo Credit: Marianne Duval

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