Allyson Gofton in France: Mothers' Day
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, the one day when mothers, grandmothers, aunts and special caregivers can rightfully put their feet up. In France, Mother’s Day is recognised on the last Sunday in May; if by chance it clashes with Pentecost, then it transfers to the first Sunday in June!
The high hopes for a mother in my village are the obligatory cuppa in bed and maybe some flowers, as gifts are not usually given. Cards are hard to find; they are not on the must-give list either. Besides, all the village schools will have had the children hand-make a card for Mum.
The work of mothering is highly regarded here, so much so that in 1920 France created a medal to recognise the work of mothers whose job was deemed extraordinarily hard. It was after the Great War, and many women were left widowed to raise large families.
The medal conditions were amended and updated in the 1980s to reflect changes in society, and now the Medaille de la Famille Francaise— Medal of the French Family — can be awarded to solo fathers or anyone who has raised several children in an appropriate way.
This is France so rules apply. Here where nothing opens on a Sunday, lunch will be cooked for the extended family and Mum herself will more than likely cook that, like our Mother’s Day lunch. Some things are the same the world over!
The invitation will be for 1pm sharp, a time that allows families to attend the almost obligatory thanksgiving church service. The four-course Sunday lunch will begin with potage or entree, main plat, cheese and dessert.
Often on a Sunday, I bike around my village and those nearby, and if it’s after 3pm, a time when the meal will be complete and the accompanying wine will have mellowed the conversation, loud laughter will reverberate down the chemins and around the villages.
It’s also likely on this weekend, when summer is almost here, that the village petanque courts will be swept of leaves and families will gather to play. Life here is just like the tourist postcards depict; almost like a time long past, and I cherish it.
If you are planning to cook for Mother’s Day, follow the KIS principal (keep it simple). Good food cooked simply will make the day. Harangued fathers and unpractised teenage cooks trying Masterchef creations is usually a recipe for turmoil.
I avoid recipes that call for baking blind, bain-marie or last minute fluffing around. If I have to cook my own Mother’s Day lunch, then it’s usually a slow roast, a vegetable or a salad and a delightful dessert.
For a smashing idea, make this “pretty in pink for Mum” rose petal-scented tiramisu in the morning and refrigerate until lunchtime, removing from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Happy Mother’s Day.
If you are opening bubbles on Mothers’ Day, dip the spongefinger biscuits into the bubbles instead of sweet white wine. Get the recipe