Five Ways to Put Some France Into Your Week

Bonjour! This is the second of my weekly postings on how to put a little France into your week. Here’s this week’s Top Five suggestions:

The Eiffel Tower, circa 1912, one of the many engaging shots at the site Paris1914.com.

1. Travel to Early 20th-Century Paris—in Color—via  Paris 1914

From Paris1914.com

Check out these beautiful photos of Paris 1914, many of which were commissioned by Albert Kahn, a French banker who sent photographers all over the world to take color photos for his collection. What’s amazing about these photographs is that they’re in color (made using Autochrome process invented just a few years before). We’re used to seeing the early 20th-century in black-and-white, yet these astounding photographs fire the imagination with full color. (Hint: Once you’re on the Paris 1914 site, click on one of the photos, and you’ll be able to navigate a slide show from arrows in the upper-left-hand corner of the photo.) Thanks and a tip of the hat to Ma Vie Française/My French Life, a great website that led me to this photography collection.


2. Diet like a Frenchwoman

Bloggist Martha McKinnon wrote that my Spinach Quiche fit into her Weight Watchers meal plan. See her posting at her Simple Nourished Living blog.

As swimsuit season draws closer, why not diet like a Frenchwoman (which means, basically, not to “diet” in the traditional sense at all). Cases in point: In recent weeks two separate bloggers talked about how my recipes a) helped one woman lose 2 pounds in a week and b) fit into a Weight Watchers’-friendly diet.

And yet, The Bonne Femme Cookbook isn’t a “diet” book at all. I simply recommend eating sensibly and eating food you love. That is, I maintain that if you eat fresh and interesting well-made food, you won’t need eat that much of it to feel satisfied; hence, you’ll eat less and lose weight.

Poached Egg Salad at the Family Meal Blog

Read more about how my recipes happened to fit into these bloggers’s plans to eat well. And yes, they share the recipes and some great photos.

• Find the Spinach Quiche recipe at the Simple Nourished Living Blog.

• Find a recipe for Swiss Chard Salad, as well as another one of my favorites, the Poached Egg Salad with Bacon and Sherry-Dijon Vinaigrette) at The Family Meal blog. This blogger claims to have lost 2 pounds after a week of cooking my recipes.

3. Enjoy Potato Chips and Drink an Apéritif

One of the best rituals in France: Serving a little pre-dinner drink with something very, very simple (like potato chips). It’s  a way to ready the appetite and the spirit for the meal to come. Read my ode to the apéritif (and why potato chips taste better in France) and enjoy one tonight with the person you want to reconnect with most.

4. Eat Some Ossau-Iraty Cheese

In recent years, this Pyrénées sheep’s milk cheese has started making its way into the US, and it’s about time! Ossau-Iraty been made in the Pyrénées mountains for about 4,000 years. I love using it in cooking. It grates well and brings a rich, snappy flavor to recipes. Use it as a finishing touch to dishes when you might otherwise use Parmigiano-Reggiano or Comté.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy this cheese, however, is in a cheese course. Serve it with other cheeses. Or, enjoy it as they do all over the Basque country: with cherry preserves and bread. (Photo of the cheese by Kubiqula via Wikipedia.)

5. Buy a Readymade Dessert

There’s some debate as to how much the French actually bake at home; certainly, they don’t have to: Wonderful pâtisseries are in every town and city neighborhood. If you’re not so lucky to have a great pâtisseur nearby—and you don’t feel like making my Lemon Tart, here’s my “cheat of the week”: Trader Joe’s Lemon Bars.

No, I’ve never seen lemon bars in France, but I have often enjoyed a wonderfully tingly and refreshing lemon tartlet after a meal. A pâtisserie classic, tarte au citron is especially wonderful after a meaty braised dish, like Coq au Vin, Beef Bourguignon, or Blanquette de Porc.

Trader Joe’s lemon bars offer much of the same sensation: a buttery crust and a bright lemon topping. I recommend serving them ever-so-slightly frozen, as their cleansing, refreshing angle shines best at that stage. Want more refreshment? Serve with a scoop of raspberry or lemon sorbet.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Braises for the Fall and Winter (Great for Le Creuset Braisers)
My French Lemon Tart (as seen in Relish magazine)
French Women Don’t Get Hangovers
How to Serve a Cheese Course
Swiss Chard Recipes (if you’re looking for some healthful but “not-diet” recipes)

 

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