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Sep 5, 2015

Flamingo/Flamenco (a.k.a. We're Melting): Bleu Fondant

THE STORY:

You know how some places just call to you, for no great reason? I've always wanted to see the Camargues, simply because the ingredient list of riz au lait (French rice pudding) includes
Camargues rice. When we spend a week this summer in Aix-en-Provence, I finally get my chance. It's an unusual spot in France, and besides the rice paddies, there are flamingos, bulls, bull-fights and flamenco-dancing (we're not too far from Spain, after all).


Bulls are big around here -- literally and figuratively. There are bull fights in the local arena advertised, but there is no chance we are going. Anthony and I saw a real bull fight about 15 years ago, and we found ourselves unapologetically rooting for the bull. The "fight" seems so unfair and cruel: a bunch of guys stabbing a bull to both enrage and weaken him, so that the matador can get flashy and kill him. I think if we had even suggested it, Gigi (our resident near-vegetarian for humanitarian reasons) would have disowned the whole family. There are bull testicles and bull steaks and bull sausages on the local menus, and we don't try those either. We don't even see any real bulls, since we spend our time by the beach, due to the scorching heat. I do take a photo of this bull sign, however, mostly because I love the name of one of the wines: "Vin de Merde" ("Shit Wine").


We decide to see the flats by bike, which would be a great idea if it weren't over 90°F (roughly 34°C).


Still, it seems a better option than doing a jeep, horse, or boat tour of the area. On those, they might take you up through the waterways to see a bull round-up here in French cowboy country. It's the kind of place where you can buy a saddle for a souvenir.


But we like the bike option because it means we can stop wherever we want and hop in the water, whether it's a popular beach...


or not.



Pippa's so pink from heat, she's either about to pass out or spontaneously combust, so we don't even make it too far, but at least we get to see our flamingos!
 
 
Basically, when we are there, the Camargues is hotter than Hades, which really drives home why these southern Mediterranean cultures like their afternoon siestas. But we get to do something active and sporty, not just cultural, so Anthony's happy. I get to see pink flamingoes, so I'm happy. We don't go to a bull fight, so Gigi's happy. And we get to cool off in the ocean, so Pippa's happy.
 
THE CHEESE:
 
Bleu Fondant is a pasteurized cows' milk blue cheese, made by Carrefour, as they so proudly state on the packaging.


The name, which means "Melting Blue", or better yet (if less grammatically correct) "Melty Blue", has the classic blue mold streaks and speckles. It's also got the classic blue cheese tang, just less powerful and delicious than a high-end raw milk version. Still, it's creamy, as the packaging promises, and not bad tasting, especially if you just need some blue cheese sprinkled over your salad or your steak.


THE CONNECTION:

Because we're melting by the bright blue sea, why not a blue cheese for melting? Also, it's a cow cheese for bull country (I'm quite sure there are no flamingo cheeses).

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