Much of the social life in rural France revolves around cooking dinner for friends. When I first arrived here, I had a limited repertoire of dishes I could make, most of them by Delia Smith (whom I'd take over Nigella and her lascivious spoon licking any day.)
But recently, I realised to my horror that I'd made the same set of friends the same thing (Delia's vegetarian moussaka followed by Delia's tiramisu) at least three times.
So I was thrilled when my house guest Liam took over the kitchen this weekend. For Saturday lunch he made chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto with sage, lightly fried in lemon juice and butter. On Sunday morning, despite a hangover, he whipped up a paella for lunch (the secret apparently is not to stir it at all and to use fresh saffron). And on Sunday afternoon, I watched in awe as he made courgette and feta fritters (a recipe taught to him by his Greek boyfriend) to take to Travis's barbecue that evening.
For three halcyon days, it was like having my own in-house chef or live-in Gordon Ramsay (without the horrible white jacket and swearing.) But thanks to Liam I have added three new possibilities to the menu when friends come over for dinner. I'm particularly pleased about the courgette fritters - ideal for barbecues or a first course - as there is usually a surfeit of courgettes from friends' gardens during the summer months and no-one knows what to do with them.