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France, for the worst of reasons, has been very much in the news headlines this week. The French Presidential election has resulted in a run-off on 5 May 2002 between the incumbent Jacques Chirac and , surprisingly, the far-right extremist candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen. This was brought about because some 40% of those voting supported the plethora of candidates on the far-left and far-right, which allied to a 28% abstention rate, allowed Le Pen to finish second in the poll to Jacques Chirac. The Socialist candidate, French Premier, Lionel Jospin, who was expected to provide the opposition to Jacques Chirac in the second round, could only finish in third place.We await the second round with interest and the hope that France returns M Chirac as President.
For centuries Scotland has had a great interest in French affairs. Ties between the two countries go far back, at least to the days of Charlemagne in the ninth century. Dynastically Scotland's links with France began with the marriage of William the Lion ( 1165-1214 ) to a French wife in 1186, a trend which continued to the marriage of James V to Marie of Guise, the parents of Mary Queen of Scots. Mary was, of course, briefly Queen of France. The early links resulted in The Auld Alliance, a mutual treaty of offence and defence, agreed between John Balliol, King of Scots, and King Philip IV of France on 23 October 1296. The Auld Alliance continued until the time of the Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century. Indeed it could be claimed that it was Scottish troops fighting alongside Joan of Arc who ensured the survival of France in the face of English aggression.
As the writer Theodora Fitzgibbon pointed out in her splendid book 'A Taste of Scotland' - "Many French queens with their courtiers have left their mark, not only in the kitchen but also in the language: the old French measure, chopine, is used frequently in many cookery books and manuscripts; gigot is common to both countries for a leg of lamb or mutton; ashet, for an oval flat serving dish, from the French assiette; and many other words...."
This weeks recipe Quenelles is another link between Scotland and France and the little dumplings can be made from meat, poultry, game, fish or cheese and potato. They can be made into either separate Quenelles or one large one as you desire. Thank you to the late Theodora Fitzgibbon for this weeks recipe.
Ingredients : 1 lb raw minced meat, ( or poultry, game, fish etc.) ; 2 1/2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs soaked in a little milk and squeezed dry; 1/2 lb butter; 2 egg yolks; 4 eggs, separated; a pinch of nutmeg; salt and pepper
Serves 4
Pound together the meat, butter and breadcrumbs, then add the 2 egg yolks and mix well. Add the other 4 egg yolks, salt, pepper and a little nutmeg to taste and pound and mix again. Finally add the 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten, and fold thoroughly in to the mixture. Make into little oval shapes with  2 dessertspoons, and put into a lightly buttered shallow pan. Pour boiling stock or water over, very gently, to cover, lay a piece of buttered paper or foil on top, and poach very gently for 10 minutes. Take out with a perforated spoon, and serve on a bed of buttered, boiled peas, mixed with chopped mushrooms. If one large quenelle is wanted, pour the mixture into a basin, cover, and steam gently for about 40 minutes. Serve with  mushroom sauce. They can also be served cold after poaching. Put them when drained into the dish they will be served from, and when cool, pour over 1 pint of jellied stock, or 2 tablespoons aspic powder dissolved in 1 pint boiling water. Leave in a cold place to set.

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