Sunday, June 13, 2010

French food reduces homesickness

Add to Google Reader or HomepageIt has been a long month since our return. We have settled into our state-side routine plus ou moins (more or less). But the comfort of routine does not reduce homesickness. I miss our little apartment and the village in which it sits. I feel the same as our neighbor who wrote in an e-mail: ‘I look across the street at your apartment and wish you were there to turn on the lights.’ On the other hand, the deerhounds seem to be pleased that we have returned and the back of the house didn’t paint itself so there is plenty for me to do.

I still do most of the cooking but find that I don’t get as much help from the ingredients. The foods here don’t seem to have as much flavor as what I could buy in France.  We can get good wines from the Rhone valley but at about twice the price. In a parallel to Herbert Simon’s “satisficing,” we are living with adequate most of the time and good once in a while.


Last week, we had an invitation to eat at Brian’s house. He and several of his classmates from Patricia Wells’ cooking school had planned a reunion at Brian’s house. Brian called it a “Best Friends Forever” (BFF) reunion. He had napkins with “BFF” at each place setting. I thought of the five of them making the menu and then buying the ingredients and then cooking the meal and I thought they should be called the “Fab Five.” The “Fab Five” of cuisine planned a French menu for 20 or so of Brian’s and Ken’s friends and we were fortunate enough to be on the list. (Three of the women were able to come to the reunion, the fourth – who couldn’t come – sent French cheese. Ken stepped up to fill in for her.)

Ellen helped to recreate the menu:

·   Aperitif course:  asparagus quiche and patĂ© served on the terrace (under the umbrella and awnings as it was raining)
·   Appetizer:  avocado and grapefruit slices in pistachio oil
·   Entree:  Thin-sliced beef Vietnamese style (recipe from Patricia Wells' recent class in Vietnam)
·   Plat:  lavender-spiced chicken thighs, green beans, and compote of onions & tomatoes
·   Cheese course:  selections too numerous to list but including ComtĂ©, several goat cheeses and others Fed-Exed to Brian from the BFF who could not come at the last moment
·   Dessert:  A salty caramel ice cream
·   Coffee
-          Nice wines to go with every course, of course.

Every course was memorable in its own right and memorable in that each course reminded me of good foods eaten in France. And oh so tasty! By the time the evening ended, I had been so transported by the excellent French-inspired food that I was speaking French (or maybe it was too much French wine???)

If excellent cuisine isn’t enough, we have discovered that Neva Austin is now making a wonderful baguette and selling it at her bakery called “Aggie Mae” at the Lansing City Market. Ellen has said that the baguette is almost as good as those that come from “Emile Bec” – considered by us as one of the best bakeries in Vaison la Romaine.

If I can’t be in France, at least I can sometimes eat as though I was there!