Animated photo Emmanuel Pierrot for Liberation
If at 50 you didn’t make hay, you missed your life. Haymaking has always been our Rolex. Walking between the swaths of cut grass after the mower has passed is a luxury that cannot be calculated beyond the jewels of Place Vendôme. Remembering our first boots hoisted into the hayloft with a fork and a kidney is precious as evoking a first date. Especially afterwards, we were entitled to a glass of fresh cerdon, this sparkling raspberry color, a nugget of Bugey.
We said it all on Sunday while contemplating a high-tech team, giant tractor and robotic machine that manipulates you hay like in the factory to make balls swaddled in plastic like lives in latex. But there remains the inimitable fragrance of cut hay that we flush from the recesses of the plains to the tops of the alpine pastures passing through meadows lost between the hedges of the hedgerow. The other day, it was in a happy valley where we had gone to flush out the wild asparagus. The hay perfumed the silent banks of a lazy river, eden of fly fishermen and rebellious and tormented acacias, crumbling under their clusters of white flowers, heavy scent, promises of delicious donuts.
After the haymaking time in late spring will come, later, that of resumption, sometimes abundant, sometimes disappointing, unpredictable like the vagaries of summer. One evening, at dusk, its too rich fragrance made us turn our heads, like a brunette without a filter, below the summit of La Tournette (2,351 meters) in Haute-Savoie. We sat on a murger eaten by an insolent bush of wild raspberries listening to the sound of cow bells.
It is a particularly favorable condition for tasting the happiness of cut hay. That of the cyclist traversing the countryside. We’re not talking to you about the hurried athlete clinging to his carbon 3.0 machine, wrapped in electronics to count his kilometers and scanning his route. No, we are talking about the indolent peking perched on an old nail with wheels veiled by age and of which the tired saddle bakes the foundation. He canoes nose to the wind on the country roads. As lost in thought as in the contents of his old rusty box repairing punctures. He often has short breaths of never repenting smokers and sometimes the sweat of the memory of his hangovers. But he has a stomach. The bike takes him on marauding trails, just to fill a bag of porcini mushrooms, to bite into the hazelnut, to swallow a handful of wild strawberries. He also pedaled like at the time of the refueling to an isolated farm which is a promise of goat droppings, fresh eggs to make a bloated omelet and white cheese where the chives and fresh onion will be cut.
Bike & cheese
This velocipedist will have enough to chew his hock and fill his taste buds this summer while smelling the scent of cut grass. He should be able (at the time of writing, the Covid-19 still imposes the conditional but cross his fingers on the handlebars) to take one of the 87 “Bicycle & cheese” routes marked out in 45 departments to discover a thousand sites cheese makers: farms, ripening cellars, markets, cheese creamers, etc. This project was born a year ago under the leadership of the Assembly of French Departments (ADF), the National Interprofessional Center for Dairy Economy (Cniel), ADN Tourisme and Vélo & Territoires. From Allier to Yonne via Creuse and Mayenne, you will change the platter and the cheeses by going to meet producers who really need them after the damage of a virus to which we prefer a trillion times the presence of artisons, these mites that eat away at the crust of old tommes. There will be something for all tastes and all pedals since the promoters of “Vélo & fromages” have imagined hikes with variable regimes. Cycle tourists and fine beaks will be able to take the 6.9 km of “La Vélo Francette Airvault-St-Loup-sur-Thouet” in Deux-Sèvres; the 238 km of the “Route des Cols des Pyrénées” in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques; the most athletic routes such as “the Sports Loop in Bigorre” in the Hautes-Pyrénées; family walks such as the “Plaine du Comtat Arbre et Patrimoine” in the Hautes-Alpes, passing by “the Circuit of the castles” in the Drôme which offers a 100% organic route.
Come on, just for the good mouth, we are already salivating at the idea of pedaling in Haute-Savoie, from the shores of Lake Annecy to the farm inn of Corbassières, above La Clusaz where we can taste the house reblochon while contemplating the Aravis range.
We found a recipe for “Savoy Spinach Emmental Cake” which gives pride of place to cheese and vegetables in Savoyard cuisine (1).
For four people, you need 300 grams of spinach; 1 garlic clove; 20 grams of butter; 10 centilitres of fresh cream; 250 grams of sheep’s yogurt; 2 eggs ; 2 tablespoons of cornstarch; 100 grams of grated Savoy Emmental cheese; 2 tablespoons chopped chervil; salt and pepper.
Tail, wash and wring the spinach. Brown them in the butter for five minutes, stirring regularly. Salt, pepper, add the cream and mix. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Whisk the eggs with the yogurt. Whisk in the cornflour, the emmental and the chervil, then the spinach. Salt and pepper.
Pour the preparation into an oiled missed pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
(1) Savoyard cuisine » by Dany Mignotte (ed. Jean-Paul Gisserot, 5 euros, 2018)