I remember a harvest cook explaining her menus for the pickers. "Harvest meals are simple but nourishing without being too heavy because the position for cutting the grapes is not particularly favourable for good digestion," she said. Good point! Certain dishes were for mid-day, when pickers needed their forces replenished- meat, vegetables, and les sucres lents (the kind of carbohydrates that convert slowly, to give energy ), ending with cheese and fruit. The teams need to eat and return to the vineyards quickly, in good heart. In the evening people can take their time and the meal is more relaxed. These are the unwritten rules of harvest food.
Le Treuffe´ is often served at the evening meal - a delicious mix of potatoes, curd cheese and cream - with a green salad.
FOR 6 PEOPLE
500 g (1 lb) potatoes 3 eggs 2 heaped teaspoons plain flour 500 g (1 lb) fresh white cheese, such as Ricotta, or curd cheese
2 tablespoons thick cream or crème fraîche 1-2 tablespoons oil, such as groundnut
Wash the potatoes but do not peel them. Cut them up if they are large but it is really better to use smaller ones and cook them whole, so that they do not become watery. Cook in boiling, salted water in their skins. When cooked, drain, and when cool enough to handle, skin them. Take a fork and mash roughly, leaving some chunks - this is not a purée.
Break the eggs into the bowl of potatoes. Sprinkle in the flour, season with salt and pepper. Mix all together. In a separate bowl, break up the white cheese, mashing it with a fork. Add this to the potato mixture with the cream. Mix together without mashing the potatoes too much. It should not be too thick a mixture but neither must it be so liquid that it pours - somewhere between the two.
This potato and cheese mixture can be made ahead of time ready for the final stage just before the meal.
To cook: Heat the oil in a big frying pan. Tip in the mixture and spread it so it is like a rather thick pancake. Cook for roughly 10 minutes over a fairly hight heat until it is brown and crisp on the bottom. Turn down the heat and continue cooking for about another 15 minutes until the mixture is firm enough to turn over and brown on the other side. The best way to do this seems to be to slide it onto a large plate, invert the pan over the plate and turn them both over. This is quite tricky as the pan is hot but the more often you do it, the easier it becomes.
Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the bottom of the potato cake is crisp, then slide onto a warmed plate and serve.