Le pistou. La sauce au pistou ou tout simplement pistou est une sauce, équivalent provençal du pesto ligure, à base de basilic pilé, d'ail et d'huile d'olive. Pesto. Pesto sauce or simply pesto is a sauce, the Provencale equivalent of ligurian pesto, with a base of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil. - example sentence from French Wikipedia
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristin Espinasse
L'Art de déléguer
Tottering atop a wooden stump just beneath a giant olive tree, I paused to look down at my husband. If it weren't for him I'd have walked right past these ripe olives, the harvesting of which was a big complication in my mind. The trees are massive, their branches, out of reach, and what tools were we to use? Then what?
But when Jean-Marc delegated the project to our son, 20-year-old Max, it only took two days for him and his friends to bring in 200 kilos of fruit! The harvest over, I was surprised to find my husband in the kitchen, days later, emptying his pants pockets of more olives. It seems he found more fruit on the trees and this time he would make cocktail olives to go with his rosé wine!
This second harvest might never have occurred to me - or to Jean-Marc, had he not walked passed the tree, seen the fruit, and been tempted to pocket what he could! (And forget pockets! I'd have operated with antiseptic buckets and brand-new gloves! But in the time it would take me to prepare my harvesting equipment and google the "how to" of it all, Jean-Marc had managed to fill a three-gallon bowl with olives and he was already on his way to brining them! All this he did with one arm!
Inspired by his example, and curious to learn how to process olives, I found myself shoving handfulls of olives into my own pocket - pants', shirts', and jacket pockets as I helped Jean-Marc bring in more fruit over the next few days. What with my husband's "no nonsense" approach -- and my blossoming interest in agriculture (specifically "permaculture"), the two of us were gradually growing into a complimentary duo! My heart began to swell as I looked down at my fellow picker and thought about the long and winding road that had brought us this far, to our second farm in France.
"We are a good team!" I said to my husband when suddenly the handful of olives I'd been grasping tumbled from my palm down through my shirt, and came out the other end to bounce off my husband's shoulder provoking quite a grin on his face! Opportunist that he is, Jean-Marc reached up with his free hand (his other still in a sling) and tickled my belly.
Tugging down my shirt, and all but tumbling off the wooden stump in the process, I tried to refocus my man's attention. "I said we are a good team you and me!"
"Oui, toi et moi," Jean-Marc grinned from the ground below.
"Did you hear what I said?"
"I can see your bidou!" came the hopeless reply.
One week out of the hospital and Mr Frisky is alive and well. And that is a good thing because now that we are done with the olives we can move on to the herbs!
"How would you like to help me collect some parsley? It will soon go to flower but if we get it now I can make pesto!" (What good was learning from your husband if you couldn't now practice the art of delegation?)
Jean-Marc followed me up to the raised beds (not the kind he was hoping for!) and watched as I pointed to all the exciting parsley. At least I was excited, that is until my fellow picker made a suggestion:
Pointing to all the parsley that had grown along the gravel path, like weeds, he said: "Why not start with these?"
OH! It was just like my husband to be practical! But the vegetable garden is my domain and I will call the shots. "We'll leave those for now. I want to start in the bed... "
So much for taking the initiative! Now we were right back where we started - with one of us grinning and the other flustering.
In the end, we managed to pick enough parsley to make a tasty batch of pistou de persil. And I'm calling this one "Pesto on the Rocks"! The next batch, if Jean-Marc has any luck, will be called Pesto in Bed.
(for Pesto on the Rocks, follow same recipe... with added modesty. Recipe adapted from this video)
Two bunches of parsley (about 3 packed cups)
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
500 ml of olive oil
2 squeezed lemons (add some of the peel, if you like)
250 grams of parmesan cheese
80 grams of roasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth. Or use one of these wonderful immersion blenders.
Use this delicious parsley pesto on French bread - or with chicken, fish, in soup, on hard-boiled eggs.... or as a secret ingredient to this Traditional French Olive cake!
Click here to order an immersion blender or to check out other handy kitchen tools.
Jean-Marc took the pictures in this post. He is doing well, after his bike accident which left him with a broken elbow. Can you see him behind me in the mirror? Don't miss a photo. Join me here at Instagram and be sure to hit the "follow" button.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi