Category Archives: cooking

Poulet Rôti, Demi-Baguettes, and Macarons, Oh My!!


What is more tempting to all of your human senses than just walking down the street in Paris? These particular memories stem from my spending a decent amount of time every summer in the 15th arrondissement, where my husband grew up, and where his parents still live.  It’s a very residential district, and one of the most quintessentially “parisian” arrondissements in all of Paris, or so I’ve been told.

Take a stroll out and about just before noon.  You’ll try to navigate the sidewalk traffic, avoiding having your foot rolled over by one of many little old lady grocery carts, filled to the brim with fruits and vegetables that have just picked up at the open air market, and you will pass by the butcher shop and feel the heat of the rôtisserie. You’ll stare amazed at the chickens that rotate, rotate, rotate, just beckoning passers by to pick one up for the midday meal.  You’ll continue on your way, roasted chicken bagged up and ready to inhale, and you will see a child who has run up to the boulangerie for his mother to get a fresh baguette for lunch.  As he innocently tears away at the tip of the bread with his little fingers, and pops the freshly baked staple into his pouty little French mouth, you will decide that you also need some freshly baked bread to go with your freshly roasted chicken.

You’ll hop into the next bakery you see (and even though it’s not “artisanal” you’ll think everything looks and smells amazing).  After standing in a line composed only of local Parisian residents, you will see single people ordering demi-baguettes, and as you watch them, you will find yourself wondering if such a thing even exists in America.  Then you’ll order one of those demi-baguettes, just because you can.

Arms getting full, and stomach rumbling from desire, you will now pass in front of a pâtisserie (any pâtisserie), and the window display will stop you dead in your tracks to admire the latest creations.  You’ll find yourself uncontrollably drawn into the shop, and before you know it, you’ll walk out of that very bakery with your poulet rôti in one hand, the most adorable little pink box full of macarons and tied up with a lovely white ribbon in the other, and your demi-baguette under your left arm.  As you tear at the tip of your baguette and pop a piece into your mouth to tide you over,  will you succumb to the temptation of the fromagerie calling your name gently as you walk by? And will you content yourself to wash it all down with a bubbly glass of Badoit (and that’s not the fun French bubbly you may have in mind, that’s merely sparkling water), all the while knowing that your poulet and fromage would be much more nicely complemented by a bottle of Hautes Côtes de Nuits from Burgundy? Oh, the decisions you’ll be forced to make.

There’s a scene from Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain that I think you will enjoy watching, even if you’ve already seen it countless times.  Watch as she leads a blind man around her neighborhood in Montmartre, and see if you can count the number of times your tastebuds are tingled.

Top Ten Reasons to Live in France


My TOP TEN reasons for wanting to relocate to France:

(maybe I forgot something, or maybe you know better!  in any case, let me know what you think!)

 

Reason # 1

Quality of life


Reason # 2

Work to live, not live to work.  Taking time to enjoy life, spending time with family, longer lunches and dinners.  Slower pace of living.  Sundays are what they used to be in the United States forty years ago.

Reason # 3

Healthier lifestyle, pedestrian friendly cities, beaches, mountains, walks in vineyards.

Reason # 4

High-quality health care system, affordable to all, low cost prescription drugs.

Reason # 5

French gastronomy, locally grown fresh produce markets, bread, cheese, olive oil, Mediterranean diet.

Reason # 6

Easy travel to diverse locations (other European countries); children grow up (with the possibility of)  being exposed to more foreign cultures.  And no matter where you live in France, Paris is just a quick train ride away.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

Reason # 7 

Some of the best, and most affordable wine regions in the world.  Summer wine festivals in the Languedoc are fabulous.

Reason # 8 

Mediterranean climate:  The weather may not be so fantastic in every part of France year round, but in the Languedoc, it really is quite pleasant most of the time.

Reason # 9

Manners are still important in France, and the vast majority of children are raised to show respect.  This is very important to me.

This is a picture of my son, my niece, and some friends.

Reason # 10

Comparatively low violent crime rate.  We are not planning to live in a big city, but even in Paris I feel safe walking alone at night.

I love butter…


It’s true.  There’s really nothing better than butter.  Especially SALTED butter.  Yum.  Butter makes everything so much better.  I’m a firm believer in using only real butter in cooking, never margarine.  When we take the time to cook and bake, much love goes into these actions.  By using real butter, we are giving ourselves, our friends, our children, our family a little taste of heaven instead of a mere substitute for the pleasure they could be enjoying.  Let’s hear it for real butter!

What’s for dinner tonight? Julia Childs’ steak au poivre. Bon appétit!


See, if we were living in France, my kids wouldn’t be hungry for dinner at 6:00.  We wouldn’t be having dinner until at least 7 or 7:30.  BUT, they wouldn’t go to bed at 7:30 either!  So it’s a trade off.  Hectic around here at 5:00 trying to figure out what to cook for dinner but so worth it when Maman et Papa have adult time in the evening.

So, dinner.  What’s it gonna be?  We made a lavish trip to Whole Foods this weekend so the frigo is plein à craquer.

I’ve just about psyched myself into preparing “Steak au Poivre” à la Julia Child. Pretty sure we’ve got everything it takes.  Sure would taste great with some homemade freedom fries but I used all of the patates last night.  Will have to make do with a ratatouille….NEVER a bad choice.  Unless I decide to sauté some ‘shrooms instead.  Yes, that’s it.  A sauté of mushrooms and a full-bodied red are a fine match!  Bon appétit!

….hours later….. Ok so I decided to go with the ratatouille.  Mushrooms disappeared somewhere.  Set the table in the backyard.  Gotta enjoy these cool St. Louis nights while we can.  Soon the mosquitos will attack.

Maman, how could you forget the goûter???


Oh heaven forbid….  4 o’clock is creeping up slowly and I’ve obviously forgotten about the goûter.  My kids are going to riot.  The goûter.  The God-given right to all children big and small.  4 o’clock snack.  Don’t be mistaken, the goûter is not to be had at 3:45 or even at 5 till 4.  Nope, they don’t call  it the “4 heures” for nothing, and today my darlings, Maman has forgotten.  Off to Panera we go, unless I can come up with something better on the way home.  Think maybe I have some slice-n-bakes in the frigo.