Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites
Nicola Harrington

A couple of months ago, I invited our friends, a French couple, for lunch. Eventually, a date was agreed. Yesterday was the day.

Our friends are a hardworking successful couple, owning a shop in Malestroit. They have two daughters, both at university. When I invited them, they were quite keen that I should prepare a traditional English meal.

Bearing in mind that the French believe that we eat bacon and eggs every day for breakfast and roast beef with soggy boiled vegetables for lunch, I thought I would go for traditional roast beef with horseradish (without the over-boiled vegetables!).

Yesterday morning, I was a little frantic. The beef was prepared, the potatoes and parsnips peeled, the Brussels sprouts and carrots prepared, and the Yorkshire pudding batter made.

They arrived at 11.30 for apéritifs. Just before they arrived, I basted the beef and added the potatoes and parsnips to the roasting tin.

The French love the apéritif (or apéro): it is not only a tradition but also a must. All was going swimmingly. I returned to the kitchen 15 minutes before the beef was due out of the oven to steam the vegetables and put the Yorkshire puddings in.

Strange, the potatoes were still white, not at all crispy.

Not to worry, they’ll soon crisp up once I whack the oven up to 220 degrees for the Yorkshires.

I went back to our guests. 15 minutes later I returned to the kitchen expecting to see risen fluffy Yorkshire puddings and crispy potatoes.

I went very very cold. The potatoes were still white and Yorkshires were flat soggy puddings. The oven had conked out… Of all the days… what was I thinking, cooking Sunday roast for the French?

Mark and our guests had followed me into the kitchen…

‘Beef sandwiches anyone?’

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