day 237 – Le Tour de France and Cauliflower

What does a bike race have to do with a Brassica vegetable?

Le Tour is in France and began exactly one hundred years ago by a Frenchman.

Cauliflower was introduced to the French via Italy in the 16th century, La Varenne (a famous chef and one of the first writers of gastronomy) used it and it became popular during the reign of Louis the XIV.

Hence, the French connection.

As a Francophile, I love all things French and Le Tour’s coverage on television worldwide includes sweeping views of my beloved country I must have lived a past life in because I cannot for the life of me understand the incessant draw to its land, people, language, fashion, cuisine, culture, arts, music, history and incessant beauty.

My living areas abound with touches of obvious, even garish French – loving gestures such as big black signs that say PARIS or a black-framed watercolor of the Eiffel Tower in the rain.

Tiny reminders of how much I love France scatter bookshelves via French inspired bric-a-brac like a tiny Eiffel Tower pillbox and a mini ceramic magnet I purchased in Paris that resembles the quintessential petit dejeuner with croissants, café au lait and a French daily paper.

One of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower is to steam florets from a huge head till tender (anywhere from 10-20 minutes), add to a food processor with two tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, freshly grated nutmeg, sea salt and VOILA – mashed cauliflower that closely resembles mashed potatoes without the starch but high in folate, fiber, phytochemicals and vitamin C.

The Tour de France just finished its 8th stage today over the Pyrenees.  Tomorrow, there will be four rugged climbs for the cyclists.  The Tour lasts three weeks and I am floored by the athletic stamina, ability and speed of the participants.  Day after day, they sprint, they climb and they fall, averaging one hundred miles a day. 

It’s a coup de grace or final blow for some and a piece de resistance or outstanding accomplishment for others as I view with amour and longing, the great landscapes and vast regions of France, while enjoying artisanal French yogurt made in our very own Sonoma county or savoring mashed cauliflower with my Dijon chicken or tasting Brie topped French baguette toast with rose petal jelly form Seattle.

Who knew how tasty watching hours of cycling could be?

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