My dear uncle André (great-uncle actually) passed away last week. He was 87. He was a single gentleman and didn’t have kids. He had a grand total of 33 nephews and nieces though and really was like a father for all of us.
We all gathered once a year for his birthday party. He always asked me to cook, and it was quite a lot of work, but I didn’t mind a bit. André wasn’t a foodie anyway. He’d been happy with cold cuts and potato chips. He always wanted everything to be perfect for us though, so I’d build very sophisticated menus every time. Lobster, foie gras, filet mignon, cheeses from all over France and lots of different kinds of cakes… I don’t bake as you know, so I’d get the cakes from the best pastry shop in town… He used to be a wine merchant, so he always made it a point to serve the best possible wine with every dish: Petrus, Latour, Yquem…
When I say he couldn’t care less about food, there were two major exceptions: one was foie gras (his side of the family was from the Dordogne) and the other was persillade (parsley/garlic/butter sauce). You could make him eat just about anything as long as there was persillade on top of it. Nobody really likes escargots, it’s all about the persillade!
On Sunday, I made a simple meal for myself in his honor: fresh scallops with persillade.
In France, scallops can only be fished from October to April. Even then, fishing is only allowed two days a week for 45 minutes. So it is the hight of the scallop season right now and they are absolutely gorgeous. As I think I had mentioned to you before, we eat scallops with their coral. It has an interesting texture (similar to sweat breads) and a nutty flavor I quite like. It’s vermilion/orange color is also quite pleasing to the eye…
I simply sear my scallops to a golden brown (about one minute on each side on medium to high heat) and then dump my persillade on top. I also like to add a bit of lemon juice to give it an extra kick. To die for!! Note that scallops are like calamari: they have to be cooked quickly so they don’t feel like rubber in your mouth. Some people slice them in half before cooking them. I don’t because they end up being thoroughly cooked before they have enough time to brown on the outside.
Going back to uncle André, we had already started planning for his next birthday. Yet another reminder that we should always live today as if it were our last…
I was going through pictures to illustrate this post and came across one of our dirty dishes from the last birthday party. It made me cry. It made me cry hard. The end of a meal. The “end” of a life full of love and laughter. What a beautiful symbol a few plates can become!
And what a powerful “FUCK YOU” (excuse my French) to the Paris and Beirut terrorists too! No gentlemen, you won’t kill our joie de vivre. Not too many virgins in my French heaven, but still close to perfect, I promise!
Look, uncle André is laughing at you idiots!
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I relate to your Uncle with loving anything with the Persillade on it. It is funny to have a Frechman question escargot.
I’m sorry your Uncle passed away and it sounds like you and your extended family really enriched his life.
I love Paris and was there in 2012. I hope to explore more of France in the future.
Actions fuelled by hatred will never win. Love and tolerance endures.
Beautiful photography in your blog by the way!
Thank you Kate for your lovely words. And yes, love always wins 😉
Beautifully written and so very poignant! I’m sorry for your loss!
Thank you Mary!
I, too, raise my glass to Uncle Andre. Food, family, memories, what treasures. And a big hug to you!
I stumbled upon your blog recently. I couldn’t stop, had to read all your old posts at once. So sorry for your loss. Love your pictures. Joie de vivre!…
Joie de vivre indeed Ratna. So glad you found the blog! Welcome!
What a lovely tribute to your Uncle. Funny how the most absurd thing can set you off on crying. but it’s the memories and from the sounds of it you have quite a few wonderful ones.
Regarding the terrorists and Paris… my sentiments exactly!
I know, both of us have had to go through difficult times this year. You even more than me! I can’t imagine how I will react when mom goes… A big virtual hug to you my dear friend!
He looks like the kind of guy you just want to hug and be around. Sorry for your loss, it must be hard on his birthday especially. Courage to you!
Oh my goodness Stéphane, I was just in tears at reading your post and then did a double-blink at your FUCK OFF! And then it made me chuckle, as what a perfect sentiment to end the post. Indeed your uncle is laughing down at them. p.s. I am completely with you on the baking.
Toutes mes sympathies, Stéphane. I find myself on the “home stretch” (I doubt I will reach your great-uncle’s venerable age) and this realisation has made me determined to leave this world on a note of thanksgiving, a celebratory note – enjoying all there is to enjoy in my everyday life… a rose’s beauty, the flight of a migrating goose, lots of persillade, why not a bit of béarnaise while we’re on the subject of butter or a bit of beurre monté au citron with those scallops, beautiful vegetables, fruit, the comfort of friendship along the way. Your great-uncle seems to have enjoyed life at its fullest (Petrus AND Yquem?) and as for your compatriots… isn’t it a testimony to French joie de vivre that they lost their lives going about enjoying it… a concert, a birthday party, a drink on a terrace, a good meal with friends. Those people, killed in a jihad, surely went straight to heaven if one were to adhere to the jihadist rhetoric. When people rebound, as the French are doing by determinedly seeking to live in a state of joie de vivre, terror loses its power to terrorize. It’s a beautifully irreverent pied de nez. I have to add that you write beautifully, that you capture incredibly beautiful images that are worth a thousand words and that you know your food! Bonne continuation.
My dear Louise, what a thoughtful comment. You write so well. I wish I were able to express myself with such ease. While joie de vivre certainly isn’t the only thing that can help us, it is quite a powerful tool/weapon indeed. Thanks again for taking the time to share your lovely comment. It means the world to me! Have a lovely weekend!!
What a beautiful tribute to your uncle! Such beautiful photos of a magnificent fellow and dish!
You are so kind Debbie! Have a lovely weekend!
You too! 🙂
This was absolutely beautiful. Your love for your Uncle, the food, the photos, and the words just made me feel like I was a happy observer of a beautiful life. Thank you for sharing this with us all.
And as for the terrorists…I second your sentiments!
Thanks Kathrina 😉
What a wonderful post and lovely tribute to your uncle. I know he is smiling and would be in total agreement.
Thanks Karen. Yes, I think he would 😊
I also wanted to add that I enjoy the new stationary designs on the site!
Your posts make us miss France. A few terrorists will not keep us away !
Only a little over 7 months and we will return.
Carl and Elaine
I hope I’ll get to see you! Have a lovely day!
Sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle and all the others losses France has suffered this week. It almost seems disrespectful to go on to compliment you on the scallops and persillade but to do otherwise would be to cede a victory to the terrorists. You are right give them a V-sign instead. I will lift a glass of something to Uncle André tonight (though sadly not Petrus or Yquem).
I’m afraid that with his passing, any chance of having Petrus again is gone for us as well. As for the terrorists, you are right. Eating and laughing and making love is one of the best things we can do. Heck, it’s our duty! 😜 much love dear Linda! We all need it…
*big electronic hugs*
What a beautiful tribute to your Uncle (great) My great Uncle was an Uncle too. You made me tear up with this lovely, and beautiful tribute to him, and your culture! Vive la France! I hope you are able to find peace, and love in memories like these. Restes bien et sauf!
What a lovely and thoughtful note. It is morning as I read this and you have managed to fill my heart with joy. Thank you!!
Wonderful post, I am sure your Uncle is smiling down at you 🙂
Beautifully written… I’m sure he would have been proud to read! 🙂
I am sorry for your loss and I admire how you have remembered him with this perfect dish.
I too like my coral. It adds a lovely extra dimension to the already wonderful scallop. They need to treated with the respect you show.
I’m with you on the FUCK OFF, too.
Stay well my friend.
Sharon sends her love,
Thank you so much my friend! I saw a pic of you guys on Stefan’s blog the other day and I don’t know what it is about Sharon, but every time I see her smile I feel so much better… I know you know, but you are a lucky lucky man 😉
Too true my friend. Too true.
Perfectly lovely scallops, a fine gentleman your Uncle Andre`, and a big finger to terrorists- a wonderful post all round: I’m coming along to your French Heaven.
Thanks dear Francesca. He was a very very special person indeed…
Bittersweet words and images Stephane. After the tragedies of the past week I feel it’s more important than ever to continue to live with love, joy and thankfullness. Butter and wine conquer fear.
They do indeed 😉
Beautifully written. ::sniffing:: Uncle is in a better world where there is no hatred and violence, where there is only dreamy food and happiness.
I love you and this post and your handsome uncle. and the scallops. PS i really do love l’escargots, but then, i’ve never had them without the persillade…
I love you too my darling. Very very much. I must say that the escargots you had that day in Avignon were the best I ever had. It was as if the butter was even heavier than real butter…
So very sorry for your loss but a perfect post in honour of your uncle. At 87 years old there must have been many wonderful family meals. And I’m with you on the persillade. I love escargot with it but it can be tricky finding people who can cook the escargot well. When it’s not cooked well the whole dish is ruined. I should, like you, try it with scallops! We can’t get the coral with it though. Some day I’ll get to try it. And yes, any and all obscene gestures to the terrorists. The bastards.
Thank you for your kind words. As for persillade, I use it all the time on pasta, meats, seafood… Maybe the most popular of all French “sauces”. Have a lovely day!!!
Thank you, you too! 🙂
Now you’re making me cry too … my own Uncle James died a week ago last Monday,he was 84 and a batchelor too. Unlike your oncle, he was a wonderful cook and paid a lot of attention to detail in the recipes. How he managed to cook such delicious dishes in a postage-stamp sized kitchen, I shall never know (and bear in mind that my own kitchen is tiny by today’s standards). He loved French food, naturally!, and it was he who bought me Elizabeth David’s books on French cuisine. Perhaps, because of this, I ended up calling him mon oncle de Londres. This is a generation who went through war, as opposed to terrorism, and they bore their trials and tribulations with such dignitiy didn’t they … so … yes … it’s okay to say ‘fuck you’ to those who perpetrate terror (those who carry out the disgusting acts are usually brain washed and/or carefully manipulated) … ‘Life’ with a capital L is about love. And good food, good wine and good company are a sure way to combat such an insult to LIfe. Bravo uncle André. Maybe he and Uncle James are sharing a joke over a glass of champagne?
My condolences my dear! André died on Monday as well… I’m sure they’re having a glass of Champagne right now. And André would never leave your glass empty, so James is in good hands! Bravo indeed and a big virtual hug to you!!
Oh my God, this is a beautiful post! Condolences to you on the death of your uncle. Thank you for showing us that France will not be brought down. I shall drink a glass of wine tonight and toast Uncle Andre, and you and France.
Thank you for your kind words dear Angeline! Yes, a glass of wine is a good idea… Or three ☺️ wine and butter are the best cure for everything !
What a wonderful post!
I can just imagine dear oncle Andre smiling down.
That picture of the dirty plates had me in tears. I echo your sentiments.
My dear dear Nadia, you always know exactly what to say! Gros calins!! 😊
As always, your portraiture is superb. André’s countenance is embedded in my mind. Is there a better food than butter? I think not!
Ha ha! Virtual hugs dear Judie!
love this post, Stephane! Especially the end!! you echo the Charlie Hebdo one I saw about Champagne.
Wonderful post, Stephane. Such lovely memories – and photos – of your great-uncle and those scallops look perfect, completely delicious. I agree absolutely about how to cook them. They always make me think of my late dad who used to like to cook them for a quick lunch on a Saturday with just some crusty bread, having been to Billingsgate Market in the morning. And a big yes to ‘joie de vivre’.
I send you a big buttery hug my friend!
I feel as thought I’m coming home to a friend’s house whenever I read your posts of this type, Stephane. I love scallops, so I would love this (as well as foie gras, etc.) But I really, really shouldn’t read these types of posts when I haven’t yet had lunch!
Ha ha! Isn’t seafood the best?! Soul food I tell you. Butter’s better than pills!!
Mmmmmc this looks amazing !
Perfect – just perfect 🙂
Absolutely! Such a beautiful post… love that message and photo at the end!
Yes, the best way I found to include a political statement in my blog without going all crazy… It’s hard to remain calm and smart these days. Humor always helps…
I can imagine… but I think it was perfectly done and represents you so well 🙂