Ah now France. You have the wine, ah French wine. You have the boulangeries filled with croissants, pains aux raisins, baguettes. France, we bow to your pains aux chocolat. France (look away my Italian friends), I’ll give you the oil. En plus, vous avez des crêpes. But France, France, France, listen now, we’ve got the milk.
We have a French dairy farmer’s daughter staying with us for the summer so as you can imagine the subject of milk often arises. Milk might come up when say, subtle hints in the vein of ‘oh-wouldn’t-it-be-lovely-to-have-an-authentic-Breton-crêpe-now’ are dropped. As I say, subtle. And when you have a lovely Breton girl standing eagarly by with a crêpe pan and a litre of Irish milk, some eggs and flour, who are we to refuse!
And this, my friends, is where I begin to betray my city origins. I’m boastful about our milk. No right thinking and modest North Kerry dairy farmer would be so confident about his dairy product. It could always have more protein and fat content. But you’re not pulling the wool over my eyes North Kerry; as a result of this year’s wonderful summer, the year’s milk yield is delicious. Silky, thick and creamy.
In the face of such betrayal of milky modesty, Adelaide and her family insist we come to Brittany to try their milk. We spoke to our lovely French compatriots via Skype last week and got on like a house on fire. Although I must have been absent the day they taught us the French for slurry pit and fertilizer spreader at college. At length, we spoke about our respective farming methods and of course we discussed the farming challenges that face our farmers (plus ça change…) but the question of who has the better milk has yet to be settled. Alas, needs must, a trip to Brittany for the blind milk test it must then be.
Until then, in the interest of Franco-Hiberno relations, it’s probably best not to mention the bainne*. As it turns out, it’s a bit of a sour subject (!).
*bainne – Irish word for milk