Beet Bourguignon, a November Reflexion

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Beet Bourguignon

I have really enjoyed November this year, savouring its days, seasonal and dark, I took a Baudelaire or even Verlaine approach to the descent into the inevitable darkness… Or was it Boris Vian? November is special to me, I decided to cherish it, it suits my mood as I have always been a winter child, excited by storms and snow showers, scouting by the Velux window of our old home for something to happen… November is a month of anniversaries, Ireland is now the place where I have spent most of my life; hard to even write – or rather read that- as I am typing. Like few, I have been blessed with two lives, that is the way I see it, a gift. November is also a month for the departed, the month my mother quite suddenly passed away. Before her time, at 49, I heard the news on a cold Monday morning, 09:30, my sister crying on the phone. Twenty years ago now, I left Galway, crossed the country in a diagonal to Rosslare Harbour, boarded a cargo ship for Cherbourg. Twenty hours at sea to reflect, while the British navy and its warplanes were exercising in the channel, Common Dolphins escorting us in the strangest of ballets… When I arrived, the custom officer couldn’t believe his eyes! A lonely pedestrian walking out of a boat in the middle of the night! When he saw me hugging my sister and my Dad, he knew it was best leaving it alone… I was too late. The last time I saw her, was eight month earlier, crying as she waved goodbye from the platform of Vannes’ s station, a train taking me back to another boat bound for Ireland. That was the last image, and I know now that she knew it was “adieu”. Like Leo Ferré said: ” Train stations are stupid” ( “Les gares, c’est con”) and Jacques Brel has a wonderful song about “Orly”. But you know what? I still love November, I transformed pain into cherishing these incredible moments. I don’t know if it made me stronger, but it taught me a lesson or two, about love and humility. This recipe – and since I am now on a veggie diet- is dedicated to her; Marie Lou, who used to make the best Beef Bourguignon… Ever!

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Buckwheat Lemony Madeleines

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Lemony Madeleines

I realised the other day, that my mother would have been 70 years old just a couple of weeks ago. Scary thought! Through the reeds and willows of the lake, I swear I heard her laugh at the idea. “Me? 70? Haha… I’ll always be young!” Yes, I could see the irony as each year and now the twentieth anniversary since she checked out, brings us closer at last… Or at least in this weird binding of two generations, bitter-sweet and salt on the wound that will make you cry first, then in time will heal… Somewhat, somehow. I could hear that laughter again through the phragmites, but this time, I am pretty sure it was a little grebe, letting me know that he knew I was there…

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