This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
Mary, my mother, has never enjoyed cooking. But cooking, she did, for a long time and for a lot of people, as she had 11 children.
So, her cooking was very basic, with nothing fancy.
At lunch, we would start with a salad, often beets and endives. Then some meat or fish on Fridays (we were good Catholics) with potatoes, vegetables, rice or pasta. Then, because we are French, cheese. Finally a light dessert.
Almost every night, at dinner, we would have vegetable soup, made with potatoes, carrots, onions and leeks. Marie would prepare the soup every 2 or 3 days. This is a soup that she made for more than thirty years. My children ate this soup too and called it "la soupe de grand-mère" (grandma's soup).
We did not eat any meat or fish at dinner. Most often, after the soup, we would have rice or pasta. Then, of course, cheese.
For dessert at dinner, Marie often made custard, using milk, cornstarch (the brand name was Maïzena from Unilever) and either cocoa powder or instant coffee.
Also, we often had plain yogurts that Marie made herself.
Of course, being French, we ate a lot of bread, but never baguette. Baguette is much more expensive than ordinary bread and becomes stale much faster.
As we almost always were eating at home, we did not know better and we were satisfied with Marie's cooking.
We were never going to a restaurant: it was considered to be too expensive for my parents that needed to save money.
There was no municipal sanitary sewer in Rambouillet when we lived there. There was under the house a septic tank, that needed to be emptied from time to time. The used waters coming from the kitchen and the bathroom were going directly to the street gutter along the pavement.
Also, at this time, food was not always as clean as it is today. The consequences were that we were often sick.
We all got measles and rubella, that are not really major sicknesses for children.
My sister Monique got scarlet fever, but she was the only one.
We also got the paratyphoid B. According to Marie, the first one who got it was my sister Brigitte, who had drunk the effluents coming from the kitchen.
Also, I remember having several times food poisoning, and waking up in the middle of the night after vomiting during my sleep.
But my parents were not really worried about our health. Being sick as a child was common and they had seen it with their younger brothers and sisters.
Continue to Part 5
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