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March 5, 2021

A giant cometh with the storm!

Living on my small plot of countryside, I’m afraid I’ve become a wild weed kept alive by the nourishing, poetic veins of the Earth. Yesterday afternoon, they announced on the radio that a big storm was coming. I was ready, a bag of coarse salt propped up against a shovel at the front entrance. The sun had retired, having slipped behind the mountains a few hours before, and I too had withdrawn, stretched out on the large living room sofa re-reading the wonderful story of the giant Gargantua (Rabelais, 1534). That’s right, the very one for whom the dish on our main menu is named. The house was utterly calm, and the dark world outside equally so. It was so peaceful, you could hear a cricket clear its tiny throat. Morpheus carried me away.

……..Gargantua is the name of a giant who lived during the time of King Charlemagne. The son of a princess named Gargamelle and a rich merchant name Grandgousier, he ate more than all the inhabitants of his town put together. His name stems from events that occurred after his birth. When he left his mother’s womb, the baby cried out: Thirsty! Thirsty! Thirsty! His father approached his cradle and exclaimed HOW BIG YOU ARE (in French, QUE GRAN TU AS). People listening from a distance understood “GA-GAN-TUA,” thinking that it must be the name given to the child, since it was the first words the father spoke upon seeing his son.

While I was dreaming, wrapped warmly in Morpheus’ arms, angels in overalls spent the entire night drilling holes into the clouds’ round wintry bellies. And that is when the sky released the gallant storm that gently fell to its knees upon the ground below. I awoke at dawn, my eyes barely open, and rushed to the living room’s large bay window.

- “Oh, how splendid nature is this morning!” I declared to the invisible creator. Glorious and soothing underneath its precious cloak of ermine. My nose pressed up against the window, I drank in the landscape. I wanted to be a master painter to capture the two massive pines standing at attention on each side of the main entrance. I would draw the smallest details of their large branches sagging under the weight of heaping snowy meringues.

I wanted to be a well-known movie director and tell the untold story of the three young deer who stared back at me in the window, their hooves sheathed in pockets of snow. They were used to the surroundings, and I was used to admiring them.

 If I were a poet confronted with such beauty, I would imagine a hare with big ears as white as snow. I would make it dance on my log fence to distract the young family of wild turkeys labouring to move. Their slender feet also held in the deep layer of freshly fallen snow.

.......It is said that 13,000 cows were needed to feed little Gargantua and that, at the age of 1½ years, he already had 18 chins, and to soothe him, one simply had to show him two jars of food or clink a knife against a jar. It is also said that the smell of someone approaching with food never failed to put him in a good mood. I had this legendary appetite in mind when I decided to name our big breakfast plate “Gargantuan breakfast.”

Picture this incredible dish presented on a large plate:

Two eggs cooked how you like them, a tasty breakfast sausage, four slices of crispy bacon, a nice slice of ham, a large portion of Canadian peameal bacon, a blueberry pancake, roasted potatoes, toast, a good selection of jams, accompanied by as much coffee as you can drink. Doesn’t that sound like a breakfast fit for a giant? Or perfect for a meal after a workout with the shovel?

........From the ages of 3 to 5, the young Gargantua was fed by his father’s commanding officer. He spent his time like any other child of the land. Drinking, eating and sleeping; eating, sleeping and drinking; sleeping, drinking and eating. He was always playing in the muck, dirtying his nose, scratching his face, wearing out his shoes, often daydreaming and running freely after the butterflies over which his father reigned.

Around the age of 8 or 9, Gargantua already possessed extraordinary strength and energy. This may explain the story that surfaced later suggesting Merlin himself had made Gargamelle and Grandgousier, from whom Gargantua issued, to protect King Arthur from his enemies. The wizard purportedly used whale bones, Sir Lancelot’s blood and fingernail clippings from poor Guinevere to fashion his two creations.   

What is not a legend but a delicious truth: our GARGANTUAN BREAKFAST is up to the tall order of satisfying giant appetites.