My parents always put a lot of thought into the gifts they chose. This replica of my husband's 45 ft sail-boat, in a bottle was one of the most successful presents anyone could have come up with.
Hubby owned "The Saga" long before we met, it was moored near Toulon on the Mediterranean and known more for the great meals cooked on board than for sailing prowess. In fact, in the 5 years we were together in France, before moving to the U.S. I never saw the sails go up; too much hard work and why not chug along with the double engines; sunbathing and relaxing instead of all that effort?
Whenever we would prepare to get away for a few days we would start by buying produce in Toulon market place. The noisy, funny vendors with tables piled high, full of jewel-colored bell peppers, tomatoes and courgettes. Shaded by the plane trees; the voices ricocheting between the old buildings on either side. Laden down we would head back to the boat to stow everything shipshape in the many cupboards.
Ratatouille was our departure dish. We had a bright orange, enamelled, cast-iron pot with a tight fitting lid. As we headed out of the bay I would chop veggies up on deck then heat olive oil and garlic, pile in all the ingredients and bungee-cord the pot to the gas stove in the galley.
It took a good couple of hours to cross over from the mainland to the islands of Porquerolles, Portcros and Levant and sometimes we wouldn't make it all the way. If we were hungry we would anchor in any charming cove we came across. Ratatouille, some freshly sliced ham, the ubiquitous Rose wine and the Siesta that almost always followed; with the water lapping at the hull. We would rock the boat and then the boat would rock us to sleep.
It turns out that hubby has many talents, mooring a boat is nowhere near the top of the list. Our anchor often dragged along the sandy bottom whilst we slept and we would awaken a few miles distant from whence we had slumbered. At night he was more careful so, in-general, we survived.
We are making Ratatouille tonight and though it is late February I anticipate being transported by the olfactory time machine to a blue sea where salt crusted skin on skin and satisfying the senses was all that mattered.