July 16, 2014

"In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."

Julia Child said that, and while she wasn't French, she was positively obsessed with French cooking. She also said, "If you're afraid of butter, use cream."

Julia Child was a bona fide genius.

I won't make this entire post about Julia, but I will give credit where credit is due. She, in all her eccentricity, was responsible for making French food accessible to the American cook. If you've ever savored coq au vin or sampled crème brûlée, you know this woman deserves some serious kudos.

On Monday, France celebrated Bastille Day, which commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. While the French national holiday involves parades and a hearty dose of patriotism in its homeland, Americans like to use the holiday as an excuse to indulge in hearty servings of croissants, crêpes and Champagne. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, "A party without cake is just a meeting." (If you haven't already guessed, Julia Child said that too.)

Modern French cuisine is world-renowned for its chic restaurants, cutting-edge techniques, and over-the-top presentation. Paris has long been lauded as the culinary capital of the world. However, the heart and soul of French cooking is steeped in rich history and heavily based on fresh, regional ingredients. Recipes for French peasant food, like ratatouille, have been passed down through the generations. Thanks to influential people like Julia Child, American chefs and home cooks are well versed in traditional French recipes. After all, we've all made a Béchamel (white sauce) and eaten pain perdu (French toast) for brunch at some point in our lives.

Fun fact: Did you know that pain perdu literally means "lost bread" in French? The recipe was originally developed as a method of using up day-old bread. You'll find a recipe for it below, along with a few other French classics that you should definitely add to your repertoire. Bon appétit!

 

Breakfast/Brunch:

Pain Perdu

Quiche Lorraine

 

Hors d'oeuvre:

Radishes, Fresh Homemade Butter, and Salt

Warm Oysters with Champagne Sabayon

 

Main Course:

 

Coq au Vin

Ratatouille

 

Dessert/Pastry:

Strawberry Clafouti

Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Creme

 

Do we have enough time for one more Julia Child quote?

"Everything in moderation…including moderation."

I'd say that about sums it up.

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