The weekend before last, our neighbors Celine and Jesse invited Nick and I to accompany them to a cheese and wine festival being held in Coulommiers, about an hour’s train ride from Paris. (Why is it that we’ve lived in this apartment for two years and only just now make friends with the neighbors? Granted, they only just moved in this year, but still it’s a bummer to have to move now that we have friends in the building.) Anyway, we all had a great time at the festival, tasting wines, cheeses, and an awful lot of sausage considering it was a cheese festival. One of the coolest things about this particular fair was that many of the companies represented came from the immediately surrounding area. We tasted hard apple cider from Île-de-France, which was good enough that we bought a case, and were amused to hear that many French people don’t accept their cider because it’s not from Normandy or Brittany.
One of the last tables we visited was selling bags of locally-grown legumes and flour. I couldn’t resist, and bought a bag each of brown lentils, green lentils, and freshly milled flour. I explained to the salesguy that I was really interested in cooking with local ingredients, and that I like knowing where my food comes from. Upon hearing my accent, he asked me where I was from. When I responded “Les Etats-Unis,” he quickly replied (in French) “Well, you’re not very local, are you?” Touché. I explained that I live in Paris now, and he threw in a free bag of split peas. Hooray!
I love split peas, in part because split pea soup is so easy to make, yet so filling and tasty. So a few days later, I boiled up the peas with a smoky Alsatian sausage (also purchased at the festival – and not exactly local, but still only 2 hours away on the TGV) and some carrots and leeks (which came from the Loire Valley via my CSA).