Monday, November 26, 2007

French Dinner, Part Deux

I just wanted to add some photos of the event to Larisa's nice entry. Viva la Cooking Club!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Le Dîner Français

Bonjour Amis! The Chefs in the City girls met this month for a fantastic French dinner. Our dinner was super rich, super buttery, super cheesy and super sweet! Ooh la la!!

I was really looking forward to this month’s dinner. I love France and consider myself lucky to have had two wonderfully-long stays in France. As a result, I have very fond memories of being 15 in Nantes and being 20 in Paris. As a teenager in High School, I spent a summer with a French family in the Bretagne region of France, and as a college student, I studied in Paris my junior year.

Unlike many foreign travel experiences, my time in France was not defined by food. In fact, I only have 2 or 3 memories that relate to food from my time abroad. Although I put French food on a very high culinary pedestal, I really do not have Proustian-like experiences with French cuisine. The smell of Comté cheese does not bring me back to a distant memory in the French countryside, nor does a Croque Monsieur make me think of a Parisian sidewalk café. In terms of culinary memories, overcooked spaghetti served with a generous helping of ketchup brings me back to my culinary adventures in France!

Quite oddly, and rather ironically, I ate quite untraditionally while staying in France. On both occasions, my host-mother did not like to cook, and if I wanted a traditional meal, I was forced to go to a restaurant. Eating a dinner of spaghetti with ketchup was not out of the ordinary and on several occasions, my host-families asked me to cook as they were concerned that they were not providing me with a traditional French-eating experience. But what did I know about French cuisine at 15? Nothing; so I ended up cooking the American fare I that did know.

This month’s cooking club gave me an opportunity to finally have a proper home-cooked French meal. The meal, complete with various French cheeses of course, consisted of a portobello mushroom variation to filet Charlemagne, a buttery shallot and local brussel sprout dish, a potato gratin and a cherry clafouti finale. It truly was another delicious and successful Chefs in the City dinner!

While we sat around Kendra’s table talking about our local New York City lives and experiences, my mind was across the ocean in France dreaming of distant memories of experiences I only hope to relive again; but next time, through food!

Until next time...