Friendship is a gift from the Universe.
A few days ago, as I was checking my e-mails, and scrolling down the endless list of my daily correspondence, my eyes were caught by a name so dear to me, but that, I was not used to seeing in a long time. To my infinite surprise, I notice that my eyes were right, I was not day dreaming, my imagination was not making things up, an actual e-mail, in bold letters and unopened, was sitting there, among the many other anonymous ones, that very one was from my friend Nadine.
Friendship, real friendship never ends.
Nadine and I met 16 years ago in the US precisely in Champaing-Urbana, Illinois. We were two European young ladies stranded in the prairies. At the time, she was pregnant with her first son, and I was burning with the desire of having a baby. We became friends right away, the alchemy between us was great from the get go. Together, as friends, lonely wives of super star, eccentric, graduate student husbands, we started our journey into motherhood.
Friendship is sharing the good and the bad.
In those years she became the older sister I never had. I say older not because Nadine is that much older that me, but because she has always been much wiser, reflective, balanced, and patient, that I will ever be. When my friend and her husband Chris left Illinois to move to Colorado, their son Thomas was about three and half years old, and my daughter Sophia was about 2. I still remember the aubergine color car leaving my house and getting smaller and smaller on the horizon, taking away my friend.
Friendship makes time stop.
Meanwhile, 13 years go by and all the possible and impossible things happen, and there I am sitting right in front of my computer, one random morning when I see Nadine’s e-mail staring at me from my in-box. In her note she tells me that she is currently at her mother’s house in Nice, France, with her two boys ( because meanwhile Pierre was born, who is now 12 years old). She lets me know that she would love to visit me in Tuscany but that logistics are very complicated without a car and with two teenagers to drag along. I look at my work schedule and since my children are in the States visiting with their dad, I decide right then to hop in the car the next day and drive up to Nice to hug my friend again. So I did.
Friendship is joy.
When I arrived in Tourette-sur-Loup my friend sends her son Thomas to meet us in the main square of the village, and the little 3 year old I said goodbye to 13 years ago had become a 2 meter tall, handsome young men. It was such a joy to pull him close and see him again after so many years. When 5 minutes later I get to see my friend again, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, I was so happy. All the though moments and all the awesome moments we had shared back in the States all popped up in my mind like in a movie. My friend was right there again, available for me to hug her.
Friendship is an amazing thing, it makes time stop. It does not matter how long you go without seeing someone or not hearing and talking to someone, the very moment you see this person again the whole time passed ceased to exist, it gets cancelled in a blink of an eye. Even her Mom, her mom’s house felt so familiar, even though I had seen it only once before. The small town of Tourette-sur-Loup, such a quaint place, cut out of a postcard. The smells and colors of the Côte-d’Azur, were exactly as beautiful as I remembered them to be.
Visiting the Côte d’Azur is a great sensory experience, your eyes are delighted by the beauty all around, the smells in the air are sweet and gentle, the scent of pine and rosemary embraces you in an intoxicating feel of excitement and joy combined together. After long hugs and squeezes of happiness Nadine leads us to a beautifully set table overlooking the sea, it was almost sunset and the candles lit on the table were dancing with the Summer breeze.
I couldn’t hide the fact that after a 5 hour car ride, I had worked up an appetite and everything that was unfolding in front of my eyes, made me giddy, The smell coming from the kitchen was now absolutely superb, I soon found out that my friend had made for us Duck Confit. Folks, that thing tasted so damn good that I cannot refrain myself from sharing the recipe with all of you. Here is the recipe for all of you to try and enjoy! Also, check out the amazing table all set stunningly down below.
Nadine has always had very interesting things to say about food, ever since our American days, she has been an endless source of nutritional tips and this time she told me about the importance of fat in a person’s diet, which, as opposed to what we are used to hearing, fat in small quantities is essential in our diet and it works as ready fuel for our body. While the digestion of carbohydrates takes a long time an it is hard on our digestive system, fats are assimilated fast and gives us ready energy. The duck we were served had been cooked in it’s own fat. In the past this was esteemed as a preservation method, keeping and cooking duck in its rendered fat results in meltingly tender, moist, and extremely flavorful meat. Yummy!
3 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 springs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 duck legs with thighs
4 duck wings, trimmed
About 5 cups of duck fat
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish, large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots, and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Melt the duck fat in a small sauce pan. Brush the salt and the seasonings off the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high sided baking dish. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven.
- Cook the confit slowly at a very low simmer, until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the duck in its fat. The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. The duck fat can be strained, cooled and reused.