Tuesday, February 18, 2014

So You Really Think You Know French Cuisine?


Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men. 
Marcel Rouff (1887-1936), French journalist and writer 

My first taste – so to speak – of French food was in a Florida high school Home Ec room watching Miss Moore make pains au chocolat from ready-made pop n' fresh dough and Hershey's bars and I thought it was the most elegant, exciting and exotic thing I had ever had. Over the next several years, I experienced French cuisine on the periphery, through the eyes of an American who saw something that was too fancy, too expensive to be within my reach. French cuisine was synonymous with Haute Cuisine and well out of either my price range or my cooking abilities.

In the close to thirty years that I have lived in France and been married to a Frenchman, being a part of a French family and completely immersed in the culture, my thinking about French food has changed. French cuisine has long been put on a pedestal and the myths or fantasy have been allowed to perpetuate. But what exactly is French cuisine? And how close to the fantasy is the reality?

French Cuisine. Italian Cuisine. Portuguese Cuisine. Such well-known, popular and rather celebrated cuisines yet how well do you really know them? Where does reality end and myth start?

How do YOU define French Cuisine? Italian and Portuguese?

This truly is a fascinating, multifaceted topic for food lovers, travellers and cooks! And we will be discussing this on Thursday at 10 a.m. EST (that is 4:00 p.m./16:00 here in Europe). I will be talking about French Cuisine on a Google+ hangout "So You Think You Know Food?" alongside illustrious fellow panelists and food experts Domenica Marchetti from Domenica Cooks, well-know author of 5 cookbooks on Italian Cuisine including Rustic Italian, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy and The Glorious Pasta of Italy, and David Leite, founder of the award-winning website Leite's Culinaria, accomplished food writer and author of The New Portuguese Table.

Domenica, David and I will be discussing the myths vs the realities of three cuisines: French, Italian and Portuguese. Jenni Field, baker, blogger at Pastry Chef Online and Google+ maven will be moderating the panel and Chef Dennis Littley, founder of G+ Food Bloggers Community is providing technical support as well as the perspective of a Professional chef.

We would love for you to join the hangout and be a part of the discussion. And start now by sharing with us here your definition of French Cuisine: how do you see French cuisine and French food; have your ideas about it changed over time and how? And if you have any questions, please leave them in a comment and I will be more than pleased to answer it during the hangout.

Even the cœur flottant merveilleux aux fraise, presented with a great flourish, made little impression, for it was no more than what may happen to the simple, honest dish of strawberries and cream once it falls into the hands of a Frenchman. 
Dr. Watson in "Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara" by Alan Vanneman, 2004

See you there!


Jenni said...

I am Very Excited about this hangout! Yay!

June Jacobs said...

I wish I could join the discussion, but unless we have another snowstorm (Heaven forbid!) I will be at work and unable to access the google site, or take the hour to participate/listen.

Jamie said...

@June So I shouldn't pray for you to have a snowstorm? :-)

Susan Lindquist said...

French food/cuisine, to me, entails use of seasonal and 'best quality' ingredients, attention to the certain food prep techniques and the steps of putting together a dish, serious thought to the accompanying sides, and realistic portions that allow one to have a complete meal and not feel uncomfortable ... it also means presenting a meal at leisurely pace that allows for conversation, enjoyment of each course, and comfortable lulls between courses- this when I think of French haute cuisine. I could go on, but this is a start ...

Maureen said...

My grandmothers were French so I'm okay with French cooking but growing up there was one tiny Chinese place in the city across the river. The only thing Chinese about it was the name. :)

Jill Colonna said...

What a super idea on this hangout, Jamie. Would love to listen in since I'm fascinated about the subject being in France also with a Frenchman for over 20 yrs. Still a lot to learn… I'll be on a plane tomorrow looking for some sunshine. Enjoy!

Brooks said...

I'll be working in the kitchen tomorrow morning, but there's a large TV on the wall with web capability. I'll log in, look on and cook to what I'm confident will be tasty talk. Best wishes to you all!

Kate@Diethood said...

Awesome idea for a hangout!! I learned about French cuisine in French class my freshman year in high school! AND the teacher introduced us to it with pains au chocolat. hahaha

On the same note, I often get wee bit upset when I see a recipe with feta labeled as Greek. Or anything that has an olive. Or Yogurt. Seriously? It really is not that Greek, at all. There's so many countries in that area that have a similar cuisine, and I can assure you that not every darn dish was inspired by the Greeks.
Besides, I'm Macedonian, I have more reasons to be upset about that than, say, the Persians. ;-)


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