Author of In A French Kitchen...
Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk to us! Tom and I have been big fans since reading the lovely 2009 New York Times feature article about your home, so it’s a big honor!
Thank you, so much, for the opportunity!
In a French Kitchen came from a sincere desire to share what I see my French friends and neighbors do, with the reading/cooking public. French cooks make it seem so easy, they take cooking and the pleasure of eating in stride, and I’ve learned to emulate them. I wanted to share that. It’s not really an individualized journey, but a desire to share my good fortune at living among people for whom food is a necessary pleasure.
It has to do with traditional and history. The French have always been close to the soil, the region, the terroir by nature of the size and make-up of the country. That has trickled down through generations, and is part of the social French identity. What transforms diners to another world when they are in France eating is the care and importance given to food; the way it takes center stage so naturally and without any guilt. The French have always seen food as so important – to life, nutrition, happiness, social order, discipline; it still is.
Note: Because it’s so good. Food tastes of what it is here – simple, pure – because ingredients are marvelous and cooks get out of their way. Plus, there is a certain competitiveness among chefs/cooks to prepare the best. That’s for the good of us all.
Q: On a related note, as much as non-French cuisine lovers might enjoy French cuisine, there always seems to be a hesitance and/or belief that French cuisine is something that just can’t be replicated if you’re not living in France, or if you aren’t French.
Not true entirely. It IS true that out of France you’ll never get a Camembert that tastes like the real McCoy, nor does broccoli stand up and kiss you on the cheek the way it does here, or melons, or chicken, or fish. But you can get wonderful ingredients everywhere, usually straight from the source, and with those use the tips, hints, recipes in a book like In a French Kitchen, and you’ll be eating pretty French.
If when you say “creation” you mean cooking, it is challenging perhaps because there is a protocol. We call it a recipe, and it must be followed to produce a certain result. Even before that, you must have certain things on hand, it really does help to have certain tools. But even if you don’t, and you get great and tasty ingredients and follow the recipes, it’s not really challenging, it just takes concentration and a bit of time.
Q: Tom and I both live in Northern California, where there’s a growing emphasis on the slow food movement, and urban agriculture. We’ve definitely seen the positive influence of eating, when we eat according to season - something I see that you briefly touch on in your book as well.
Absolutely, I am convinced it will. The secret to great food anywhere is seasonal and local. Urban gardening is a wonderful thing, and it must be supported both by consumers and by urban governments. We have plenty of land; we have lots of people who need good jobs, which makes a perfect climate for urban gardening. That, with traditional farming, will produce great local, seasonal ingredients. The thing about eating seasonal and local is that flavor and texture is so good that the food is satisfying, and this results in people eating less, because they are satisfied sooner. I think that more of this kind of food could cause the best possible revolution.
Q: And finally, what’s next for you?
More books, more cooking classes, more teaching! But before all of that, a couple of US book tours!
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