April 6, 2015

Lunch in Provence Tablescape

I recently had an email from my school in southern France. They were contacting alums with an update on their programs and such. After reading the letter and clicking on the various study and travel links...I began day dreaming. 

I went back to my wonderful time in Aix-en-Provence. I can still see everything as clearly as if I were there. As students my friends and I did not have much money, but we learned to enjoy French food, art, travel, etc. on our meager budgets. One thing that I learned about was how the French consider lunch and dinner to be special times for relaxing and savoring their meals. I eventually learned to enjoy a two hour lunch! It took me a while...but I did it. We Americans have a busy busy mindset. It takes time to unlearn that mindset. (I did have to relearn my American ways when I returned home and became a high school teacher. That school bell rang every forty-two minutes! And there were no more two hour lunches.) 

You are invited...to join me in creating a Provençal table and (le) déjuner.

A table setting for lunch in Provence should be simple, relaxed, and pretty. Imagine blue skies, lots of sunshine, and a mild climate. You would most likely eat outside on the porch or terrace. Provence is in the south of France where things are simple and relaxed. 

What I am imagining would be like a lunch with my French family from years ago. It would be on their vine covered back porch/terrace...with a simple table covered in oilcloth or some such durable tablecloth. They had simple ladderback chairs around their outdoor table. Most of the time during good weather, Papa, who 
was in his nineties, stayed at that table...sometimes catching a nap. (Sometimes he would tinker in the flower garden.) I still have that 
modest little table and the maiden sisters with their Papa in my 
memory. So, with that memory in mind, I created a tablescape that would reflect that simple ambiance. (Though mine is inside...it could be moved outside easily by moving the farmhouse table.)

I began with a simple striped linen table runner to anchor the center. 

Next, I took a French looking wire basket and created a centerpiece. I placed random faux fruit and greenery balls in the basket for some Provencal color. 

image source: Food Lover's Odyssey: Provence (Visit for beautiful photos.)
I used to walk through this market on a daily basis. Ahhhh.

If I were in Aix I would walk to the flower market and buy some pretty flowers...or pick them from my garden (dreaming here.)

I chose simple plates and flatware (for possible outdoor eating.) I love to use inexpensive white porcelain these days. I like to be able to put dishes in the dishwasher. The napkins are a washable cotton/polyester mix. Again...they can be machine washed. We are after "simple and easy" here. 
The goblets may look like crystal...
but they are actually plastic for outdoor use.

I added some serving pieces to the mix.

You can sit back and have a sip of wine with your lunch...as the French do. 
Or you can sip something I love...Welch's Sparkling grape juice cocktail. It comes in red grape and white grape...and has some fizz. I love this stuff. (makes a great punch too) I think it is great to have on hand for guests who do not want to drink alcohol because of driving, medication, or their personal preference. 

(My daughter will tisk, tisk, because I left lipstick on my glass. oops! I would have wiped off my glass if I had noticed before I took the picture. ha! I was sipping and styling at the same time. 
:-) C'est la vie!)
Here is a better picture of the label in case you want to find it. 
This scene would be perfect if I had food prepared and on the table...mais non! Je regrette.
A Simple Provencal Menu
le déjeuner (lunch)
le pain, la baguette     (image...foodnetwork.com)

du pain...bread
de la salade Nicoise 
de la Quiche au jambon champignons
du fromage (cheese) et des fruits
du vin (wine,) de l'eau minerale (water)
comme dessert... for desert
de la tarte (aux) pommes (apples)
Homemade French Baguettes

Bon Appétit!

As a student at IAU* in Aix-en-Provence, France
I could go into a simple French restaurant or bistro by myself or with a fellow student and have a wonderfully nourishing meal for a few francs. If my roommate and I cooked anything it was simple like a steak haché (hamburger, no bun) and not a balanced meal with veggies, etc. For nutrition we would eat fruits from le marché that we would pick up during the day....and then pickup une baguette, and some fromage/cheese. It was easy to get excellent nutrition in the local (non fancy) restaurants...but most of us were counting our francs and centimes, so we could only eat out once in a while. We would walk up to a restaurant window to read the menu and prices to see if we could afford to eat there. In time we learned where to go for budget meals. Also, there were sandwich kiosks...which I learned to love. I would have a salad on une baguette or round. C'était délieuxThey would wrap it in paper...and you would find a place somewhere to sit and eat. Though we Americans would walk around and eat at the same time. C'était délieux! 

* IAU, Institute for American Universities...now known as IAU College. 2 bis, Rue de Bon Pasteur, Aix-en-Provence, France.

While we are not in Provence today, let your mind take you there for a mini vacation. Grab a cool glass of something. Listen to Edith Piaff. And visit Aix-en-Provence virtually.

Thanks for Visiting...and au revoir.
My Kentucky Living
My Kentucky Living

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.

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