Food and Drink

October 7, 2010

This time of year sends me flying into the kitchen, as if possessed, like a bloodhound desperate for a scent of impending smell. I want food, delicious aromatic food, yummy to look at and even better to eat. Summer is all about combining fresh and beautiful produce, but not about cooking. There is the delight of a fresh fruit pie or crumble – won’t turn that down -  to make or  eat. August delivers the possibilities of gazpacho along with anything else that can be beautifully carved out of a tomato and fresh basil. But October, ahhhhh, that is when the kitchen is really in her prime. As the evening temp dips down and AC is replaced by heat I heed the beckoning call, persistent and intent. Come back into the kitchen and make something already!

The gorgeous array of cookbooks that bloom in bookstores this time of year entice  me all the more. Clearly my true calling is stirring, sauteeing, baking and roasting. After the latest trolling of our local book store I walked away with three inspiring and mouth watering books. First one, the new Marc Bittman The Food Matters Cook Book. Filled with plant based tantalizing recipes I went running to the store to buy brussell sprouts (and I don’t like brussell sprouts). Next in line In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark.  Beautifully written, it is both a pleasure to read as well as cook from. Last but not least, the exquisitely photographed and meticulously researched new book by Dorie Greenspan, Around my French table. What a treat!

August 2, 2010

I wake up in the shape of an upside down question mark and can't move. Oh, I see. It is due to two children in my bed, one on either side of me. There is snoring coming from the floor. My oldest has placed himself there sometime during the night. Re-entry after six weeks in France is not going to be easy.

Upon return the children all felt our house was tooo big after living in a sardine can for four weeks. Just goes to show the affects of environment even in the short term. The house does feel cavernous, but that is because it is empty. We moved a month before leaving and half the boxes have yet to be unpacked. Uggghhhhh…..

Ice. Being dry and parched from my jet lagged sleep I reach for a cold glass of anything and realize I can pull out ice. Ice is a great luxury in France. Restaurants rarely serve it and our apartment did not have a freezer – big surprise. The refrigeration systems there are teeny tiney dollhouse size, and electricity  chuggs along in what seem to be limited amounts in the old buildings of the Marais. Ice is a welcome friend.

Bread. Wandering through the grocery store yesterday in a bit of a culture shock stupor I was at a loss as  what to buy. The bread aisle  looked  cartoonish ,  filled with Disney-like bundles of plastic. At the corner boulangerie in Paris the smell of fresh bread wafted in the windows in the morning and by afternoon their  shelves were empty. And it was DELICIOUS. Chewy in that perfect way, rolling with flavor. The bread here looks about as appealing as eating a sponge.

Cheese. Well, maybe I'll purchase some cheese. That was a mistake.

Olives.  Love olives. Always have. One of the tastiest concoctions we had in Paris was a thin crusted pizza on the Champs-Elysees with cheese, tiny capers and olives. It was sublime. That is one recipe I will try to recreate. The olive selection here is all in bottles, but there is a nice olive salad in the deli that looks fresh. We will have one of those please.

Fruit. Generic and  industrial looking. The berries at the local market in Provence were still warm from being picked. This fruit looks like it's been hermetically sealed in a vast refrigeration system. This was getting depressing. I picked up a peach, hard as a rock and ice cold. Eww.

Why is our food so disgusting? Perusing our local grocery store is a viewing of food like substances with very little real food.Not a novel discovery but  visually shocking when coming from such a different food experience for my family. Summers with my grandparents when was a child were a bounty of fresh produce picked everyday from their own garden. And it was absolutely delicious.  Sitting at the kitchen table chatting while munching on sliced green peppers and warm, sweet tomatoes was vividly recalled for me with the beautiful produce of Provence. The leisurely abundance of the Provencial markets was replaced with the fervor of Paris, but the food remained the same.

Change #1 – pay strict attention to what I feed my family and where it comes from. No more lip service. 

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