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Still in a Provençal state of mind after this year’s holiday in Cannes, I planned a blow out Bastille Day menu this year.

Starter

We had half a lobe of goose foie gras, cut into thick slices and sautéed quickly over high heat.

Keep the thawed or fresh foie gras in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. That way, it retains its firmness and shape in the pan.

Experts, such as Urban Merchants in the UK, recommend using duck foie gras for sautéeing instead, because goose has a higher iron content. They are correct in saying that goose foie gras does less well under this cooking method, nonetheless, it was unctuous! We had the other half of the lobe today.

As foie gras of any sort requires fruit or chutney on the side, I borrowed an idea from a restaurant in Cannes, Aux P’tits Anges (To the Little Angels).

Instead of using chutney, fig or sauteed peach, they served their seared duck foie gras with a tablespoon or two of finely diced strawberries instead. It is a perfect — and inexpensive — seasonal complement.

I prepared my strawberry garnish for two in a small bowl, mixed together as follows:

9 medium sized strawberries, hulled and finely diced
1 scant tsp balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 pinches of freshly ground pepper

Today’s foie gras is produced humanely. As I have written before, these ducks and geese are naturally conditioned to want food frequently. They are like overweight humans who, over time, turn off their bodies’ natural appetite suppressant in the brain.

Foie gras is healthful, as the French — particularly those in the southwest of the country, the main foie gras producing region — know only too well. There are a lot of healthy elderly people in France who are well into their 80s and 90s.

This 1991 article from the New York Times discusses the health benefits of foie gras and focuses on people in the southwest, many of whom eat it every weekend.

One thing I did notice in France was that most of the restaurant dishes are largely keto. Remember that bread is served on the side, so how much the diner carbs up is up to him! Too many carbs combined with too much fat will cause a health problem, which is what a lot of people do not realise.

Wine

Serve a sweet wine with foie gras, such as Coteaux du Layon or Sauternes. We had Sauternes this year.

Main

We had gambas — large prawns — for our main course. Ours were the largest, which come 8 to 10 to the kilo.

Earlier in the day, I deveined them and made a delicious stock from the shells and heads, which I used for a sauce (see below).

I put the prawns in an olive oil based fresh herb, crushed garlic and seasoning mixture to marinate for a few hours, then, refrigerated. Once I brought them out of the fridge to room temperature for 30-60 minutes (depending on outdoor weather), I sautéed them for a few minutes each side over medium high heat.

Prawn sauce recipe:

2 tbsp corn flour
2/3 cup prawn stock
3 to 4 cloves crushed garlic
Seasonings — salt, pepper, cayenne, Old Bay
2 tbsp Noilly Prat or other white vermouth
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp butter

1/ Make a slurry with the corn flour and prawn stock and place in a saucepan over medium heat.

2/ When the sauce thickens after a couple of minutes, add the crushed garlic and add seasonings according to taste.

3/ Add the vermouth and stir.

4/ Add the cream and stir.

5/ When finished, add the butter and stir for a glossy appearance.

6/ Take off the heat. Reheat once ready to serve.

Some people can handle starch and protein better than others. Those people get a hefty portion of chips. Others can have a timbale of seasoned rice on the side.

Serve with a green vegetable of choice.

Wine

As it was Bastille Day, we opted for champagne!

Other accompaniments

We watched the Tour de France — what else on July 14?

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