During the summer months, when the temperature in Paris shoots up to nearly unbelievable heights, it turns my up-on-the-rooftop apartment into a furnace, and many nights dinner will be enjoyed on the roof, overlooking the city, watching the rest of it cool down after a broiling day. Somehow, my apartment doesn’t enjoy the same cool-down period, perhaps its the price I pay for being closer to the sky? Because the roof is quite pitched, I’m always careful about not having a glass of wine with dinner. But if for some reason you ever stop hearing from me, well, c’est la vie.
Results tagged salad from David Lebovitz
I vaguely remember my first visit to J’Go. I think it had something to do with a wild night at the bar, and involved French rugby players drinking Armagnac shots off my belly. But unless someone has photo proof, I’m going to just assume that my memory may be off. (It very well may be, if it involves my having a belly concave enough to hold any sort of liquid.)
The name J’Go is a jeux de mots, a play on words for ‘gigot‘, which is pronounced exactly the same and means ‘leg of lamb.’ But here, it’s a bit of Franglais, since it can mean “I go” if you’re mixing the two languages up. But if you’re someone who likes great spit-roasted lamb, I’m not sure how to conjugate that in a similar fashion, so I’ll just tell you that j’go’d to J’Go three times this month alone,
I’ve never liked celery. To me, it’s like eating green water held together with a lot of stringy, indigestible fibers. Unless it’s filled with peanut butter or cream cheese, you can have it. The only time I ever buy a bunch is when I’m making stock, which is a shame, because I only just need a few stalks and usually the rest sits in my refrigerator until it wilts and dies and I have to throw it out. And I hate throwing food away. A lot of other people in France must feel the same way I do because at the markets, the vendors will gladly slice a bunch in half and sell you just part of one.
Yes, I’ve seen those recipes for things like braised celery and boiled celery, which allegedly are the most wonderful ways to transform that ho-hum vegetable into something edible. I’ll have to take their word for it, because when I read through those recipes, no matter how excited the authors are about discovering a new way to prepare celery, the finished dish still sounds like it’s going to taste like rolled-up soggy newspaper. Until I’m proved wrong, for now I’ll stick with celery root, which is a whole ‘nother story.
The other night I was sitting at Le Garde Robe, minding my own business, trying to get down a glass of natural wine. Being seven o’clock, naturally, in addition to being thirsty, I was starving, too.
And the lack of food (and sulfides) must have started affecting my brain because I started thinking about how I often hear tales from visitors, such as when they told a Parisian waiter they didn’t eat meat and shortly afterward, were presented with a plate of lamb. Or they ordered a salad, that was supposed to come with the sandwich, and was actually just a single leaf of lettuce. Hoo-boy, and yes, I’ve made a few gaffes of my own, too: I once ordered a glass of Lillet (pronounced le lait, which isn’t well-known around Paris) and the perplexed café waiter brought me out a long, slender glass of le lait (milk), presented with great panache, on a silver dish with a nice doily. Of course, everyone was staring at the grown man who ordered a tall glass of milk. And I don’t think it was because of the starched doily.
Anyhow, I was scanning the chalkboard at Le Garde Robe, looking at the various charcuterie and cheese on offer, and noticed filet mignon, and thought, “A steak is a funny thing for a wine bar to serve, especially one that doesn’t serve hot food.” Until I remembered what it is in French. And if everyone wasn’t already staring at the idiot at the wine bar, nursing a stemmed glass of milk, I would’ve kicked myself for thinking that’s a big, juicy steak. Which it’s not, in France.
1. Mixing Up the Mignons
Mignon in French means “cute”. And to my pork-loving friends and readers, that can only mean one thing: pigs. French people think cows are attractive.
Last summer, Romain went to stay at a place in the French countryside with a large, semi-wild potager, a vegetable garden, which the people who lived there fed themselves from. They let weeds grown, didn’t spray pesticides on anything, and they ate most of the food as close to raw as they could. During his stay, he called me and said that he never felt better in his life, and that he wanted to eat like that when he returned home to Paris.
One doesn’t think of people in Paris munching on wheat berries and whole grains, but it is possible, especially because there are a few rather decent natural food chains here, as well as some smaller stores, too.
One assumption that I’m going to make about the French is that they’re not afraid to make things au pif, or “by the nose”.
I don’t know if a precise recipe for sauce vinaigrette actually exists. But if there is, I bet few people follow it very closely. And Romain is no different from his compatriots when it comes to recipes, and rules.
They are both for other people—and don’t apply to him.
Vinaigrette is just one of those things. It’s a few simple ingredients which come together so well, when done right. Anyone can make it: you just pour, stir, marinate, then taste until it’s just right. But the salad dressings in France always taste better to me than elsewhere. So thought I’d follow Romain when he made a true vinaigrette. He was surprised at the idea of measuring anything, so I follow him through the steps, taking a few notes along with way (see Recipe, at the end) and along the way, I learned two French secrets for a great salad dressing.
One is that you must use good Dijon mustard.
When I applied for my job at Chez Panisse, I’d just left a restaurant where the chef was, what we call in the business, a “screamer”. That is, one of those chefs who flips out in the kitchen and yells indiscriminately.
Contrary to what television might lead you to think, this isn’t a new, or even trendy, phenomenon. (The other type of chef that cooks dread are the “watchers”, the less-telegenic chefs, who stand around and watch everyone else do all the work.)
The job I’d left was the only job that I ever dreaded going to since every day was pretty much a cauchemar (nightmare). So with a bit of trepidation, I asked Alice if she ever yelled, and she said, “Only if I see good food going bad. That makes me angry.”
Fair enough—since I agreed.
Whenever I would see someone wasting something precious, like raspberries, or letting them go bad, I realized that those people likely had never navigated the thorny branches to see what goes into picking that pint of those berries. Or spent a few back-breaking hours hunched over in the scalding-hot sun, picking strawberries. So when people complain about the price of berries, I say, “Well, how much would you charge if you have to pick them?”
When I was a newbie, someone in the cookbook biz once told me that if a cookbook has one great recipe in it, it’s totally worth it. And I agree with that. I have a mountain of cookbooks, and most have plenty of tempting recipes but I’ve only made one thing from many of them. But those that do make the cut become standards—or what we call “go to” recipes.
One such cookbook was the Joy of Cooking, which was re-published with great fanfare (and some undeserved derision) in 1997. I remember a blurb on the book jacket from a previous edition, by a bride who swore she toted the book along when she moved abroad. Which I didn’t, although I was hardly a blushing bride. So at least I have an excuse.