Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A little je ne sais quoi

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite cuisine is, I automatically answer “French.” Truth be told, I’ve never really thought about it much before.  But in honor of what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday, I decided to really ponder the question.

I think I cook dinner pretty often – 2-3 times a week, plus maybe a baked good thrown in there – although admittedly not as often as I’d like. When it comes to making dinner, I tend to go for “American” food – or at least, Americanized versions of other cuisines. This is probably because a) I usually have these ingredients on hand or else they’ve very easy to come by, and b) these types of dishes tend to be fairly easy and not too time consuming. However, when it comes to eating out, I almost always go French (go French or go home!). Liaison in Berkeley has been one of my favorite meals in California so far. My favorite New Orleans dinner destinations are French-inspired (Mr. B’s Bistro, the Court of the Two Sisters, and Irene’s, to name but a few) – although of course, that is mostly attributed to the French (i.e. Creole) influences in the area.

I figured out why I tend to gravitate to these restaurants – it is not only that this is my favorite cuisine to eat (which it is), but I simply adore the philosophy of French cuisine, much of which Julia brought to America. I am 100 percent behind the French tendency to shop daily, eat locally and seasonally, indulge in butter and wine—but appropriately – and linger over a long meal. I love the way the French think about food, and I think it’s very similar to how I think about it. Food should always be delicious, of course, but it is also about the pleasure of eating and the importance of sharing a meal with those you love. My dad taught me that. I don’t think he learned it from Julia, but he might as well have, because she taught millions of others that same thing.

To (slightly) switch gears, I do want to briefly discuss baking – something that I do cook “French” more often than not. Crepes (Julia’s recipe, always), Dutch babies (a.k.a. puffed pancakes and the French version, clafoutis), profiteroles – all are intrinsically French. There is just something about French baking that draws me in.

And, and Monday night, to participate in #CookforJulia I made croquet madams for the first time – yummy! – and watched Julie and Julia. Bliss.

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