Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gypsy pork rolls with sofrito

It's surprising what sneaks back in your luggage following a holiday.
Some people bring back trinkets of famous monuments, artisan goods or cheap knockoffs depending on the location. Others, myself included, amass hundreds of snapshots or film clips to put into slide-shows or albums to share with friends and family. And then there are some that find the glimpse of another life in a different country too good to pass up and simply bring their suitcases home only to fill them with their old life's belongings to head back to start afresh.

My bags from France came back with a little of all three. I pulled out blocks of silken chocolate wrapped in beautiful delicate papers that would make any girlish heart squeal with glee. The scents of petite soap bars mingled in the air exhaling notes of rose, lavender, lime and lotus as we passed them around, each recipient choosing one that pleased their nose most. Following the gifts we watched the photos on our flat screen, offering commentary when prompted; the shots from Paris elicited the most oohs and ahhs. Believing my luggage to be empty we bid everyone adieu and settled back into our old habits.

But I was mistaken. Something had stowed away and followed us home. It was neither souvenirs nor film but a piece of life from France. A ritual we had been quick to adopt when living in our apartment on the Avenue de la Bourdonnais; the afternoon siesta. Lunch in France is not a sandwich scoffed down at a desk nor a coffee in a paper cup. It is a sacred time of respite, rest and the enjoyment of a good meal. It is meant to be savoured and lingered over not rushed or worked through. We realised soon that we would have to schedule our grocery shopping around the two-sometimes-three hour afternoon break when stores would be closed and bistros filled with people relaxing, laughing and ceasing their work to go back to living. Lunch became our favourite part of the day. We would eat a three course meal whilst watching the world go by or head home to whip up a feast of fresh produce, fluffy baguettes filled with oozing cheeses finished with the most juicy strawberries imaginable, eaten with our fingers whilst our feet rested on the balcony balustrade, the breeze tickling our toes as we let ourselves slip into the afternoons embrace. It was as replenishing to the soul as a cool drink of water following days of thirst. And yet it was the first thing to be forgotten on our return home...

Until it crawled out of my luggage and unto my lap. If we can do it in France, then why not here? We choose our own hours, so why not choose something that made us happy? I became determined to give it a try. Instead of sending my husband off to work with a standard sandwich he left empty handed, but with a promise that I would return at 1pm with something worth taking a break for.

And that is what happened. At 1pm I arrived at his work with two large lunches and some cutlery. Although he was busy he stepped out and we ate in peace at a leisurely pace, enjoying our food and conversation at the back of the store on a tiny table for two most commonly used for storage. Not only did we enjoy our lunch, but I have a feeling that little table was also happy to finally be used as it was intended.

We have been home for a few weeks now, and more often than not we are still managing to shut off if only for one hour to enjoy a lazy lunch and recharge our spirits.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 5mins
cooking time: 35mins
total: 40mins

taste: 4.5/5. The first impressive lunch.

Although it didn't look as pretty packed into a tupperware container, hubby was still happily surprised by his lunch when I came to drop it off - it was his 'tastiest' lunch ever. He said it was full of flavour and wolfed it down in minutes.

I tasted the sofrito which definitely packed a flavour punch. The tomatoes were sweetly acidic from the sherry with the caramelised sweetness from the onion and garlic also. I used smoked paprika (not pimento) which I doubled because I simply loved the depth it gave to the dish, it really brought it all together. The mint leaves also helped to cut through the smoky, tangy sweetness with a burst of freshness every now and again.

I forgot to get the butcher to butterfly and pound the pork, so I just sliced it in half, and although it was a little thick and the rolls a little clumsy, it still tasted fine, but it was a bit pink in the centre which hubby didn't mind.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: Little Gypsy Pork Rolls


  1. What a lovely story you have told. I so agree, the French really respect their meal times and food. You have inspired me to take more time with lunch, and give it the ceremony it deserves. How lovely :)

    p.s. you lunch looked delicious. what beautiful colours!

    Heidi xo

  2. I think you've captured perfectly the post-holiday mood in this post. And the European spirit of slowing down, which is possibly one of the best things you can learn, definitely a good one to bring away with you.

    I love that you made this for hubby, it looks delicious, and will definitely have kept him filled up and happy for the rest of the afternoon!

    Speaking as someone who only gets a half hour for lunch, during which I have enough time to run to M&S, wolf down a sandwich and flick through a magazine, I would love to be able to slow down and have a leisurely lunch. But alas, the powers that be dictate that my break is a half hour only. One day when I'm running the show in my career of choice... then I'll be able to implicate this.

    Jax x

  3. It's a shame most companys don't give their employees an hour for lunch as I'm pretty sure they'd end up with happier staff...

    But yes, we are fortunate that as self-employed folks we can decide our lunch breaks, but sometimes it's actually harder to make yourself stop at a particular time each day when you don't have too, it's always a little tricky striking that work/life balance

  4. What a lovely thing to take away from your trip. I can't believe you lived in an apartment for a vacation -- that sounds amazing! When I went to Paris, I was splitting 2 weeks between there and London and was rushing around to see all the sights. Your way sounds far superior. And your dish looks utterly delectable.

  5. ah! If only we could take a decent lunch break instead of wolfing it down while still staring at an excel sheet!! sighh..

    I remember one of my colleagues at my old job, would insist on stepping away from the desk and going to the cafeteria and eating lunch even if it was by himself. He refused to wolf down his food :) I always marvelled at his "breaking the tradition" as it be!

  6. Good for you! That is such a super idea and helps recharge your mind as well as enjoy your meal. And your presentation is lovely.

  7. i wish the us would adopt the siesta--it seems like a marvelous practice. :)
    love this dish--it's flavorful and so nicely presented!

  8. Oh my gosh, this look delicious! And so beautiful! Your photographs are gorgeous.
    I've recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think :) www.prettygoodfood.com
    Thanks, and Happy Cooking!!!

  9. Magnificent photos of a beautiful dish. Just lovely. Bravo

  10. this sounds like a perfect world, with long leisurely lunch breaks and three courses of delicious food!
    I would love the piece of Parisian life transferred to my own life :)

    thank you for sharing.

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  12. that sounds absolutely perfect. Too many times I've worked while eating my lunch. This seriously sounds like a great idea. If only to do it a few times a week!