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#38 Hiking, eating, harvesting

Update #38 Published on update

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. To begin with, Robin's otitis evolved into a semi-facial paralysis. That was super scary. Thankfully, we now know for sure that the condition is benign and should pass with time. With that diagnosis in the background, we tried to go on with life and our regular activities.

Activity #1: hiking

On Sunday, we went to St-Melany for the first time, driving on some of the most beautiful roads I have seen in Ardèche.

St-Melany also has an artist-themed hike that guides you through amazing landscapes. The only drawback is that the entire loop is 5–6 hours long. That hike is therefore the longest I have ever done (yes, I'm weak). I am happy to announce, that although I almost gave up in the middle, I still successfully completed the loop without crying.

Plus, a great thing about doing that hike end of September is that we were able to nibble on lots of wild grapes on the way!

Activity #2: eating nougat

On Monday, Robin had a doctor appointment in Montélimar, a legit (albeit small) city one hour drive away. So, we thought that it would be nice to spend the day there, doing some city-related activities.

The idea was nice. The only problem was that it was a Monday. And French cities are dead on Mondays. In short, all the nice restaurants, coffee shops, museums (nah, kidding), book stores, even libraries we wanted to visit were all closed (sob).

But that's fine, because Montélimar is a wonderful city where everything is under construction. I'll let you imagine how lovely the atmosphere was.

[insert construction noises]

Okay, I'm making it sound worse than what it was. In reality, we stumbled upon a cute Vietnamese restaurant — yes, one of the rare restaurants to be open. Bonus points: we also visited two nougat producers and brought back a lot of sweet edible souvenirs. We discovered black nougat that is made with mostly honey and as little sugar as possible. It's official, I can now never go back to "regular white nougat".

Activity #3: harvesting pepper

France planted a Sichuan pepper tree in her garden about ten years ago. This is now the second year the tree gives her enough flowers for a harvest.

Yes, flowers and not fruits. When talking about Sichuan pepper, the name is misleading, as it is in fact not closely related to black pepper. Apparently, it's not the seeds that you dry and eat, but the flowers[1] that cover them.

To harvest the pepper, cut some branches to bring back home. This part is already tricky as the branches do not want to be touched. They are super spiky and will not hesitate to hurt you. Once home, separate the flowers from the branches. Wait for flowers to dry.

We are now currently in the waiting phase. Let's see what it looks like in a few weeks! ENDCHAR

  1. Another Wikipedia nugget: Sichuan pepper in Chinese is literally called flower pepper. ↩︎

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