When people asked Julia Child how they could become truly passionate about food and cooking, she had one simple, direct answer.
“Go to France and eat.“-Julia Child-
Simple as that. Unfortunately, in 2020, for most Americans going to France is not so simple. And it won’t be — at least for the foreseeable future.
But learning about food, learning how the French eat and what they eat, how they pair food to wine (notice the order of my preference here), and how the French linger over dining taking time to actually have conversations with friends . . . we can do that right now and right here.
The hardest adjustment for most Americans is taking time for a meal.
Not just time to prepare and cook food (though certainly that), but taking time to share a long, slow, leisurely, truly wonderful meal. The clock in American brains just does not seem to grasp that. At least not at first.
A few years ago on a trip to France I rendezvoused in Paris with a friend who lives in Texas who had never been in either in Paris or in France before. It was brilliantly fun because I love showing people who have never seen Paris PARIS. We hung out together about ten days before she flew back home and I hopped the train to Bordeaux.
But during those ten days, we ate out a lot — because, well, because after all, it was PARIS!
Like many Americans on their first trip to Paris, my friend had a difficult time the first day or two at Parisian restaurants. In normal life in Texas, she is a high-powered business woman constantly on the go and always watching the clock. The tempo of a meal in France seemed way off to her.
Here’s how it would usually play out over lunch or dinner those first two days.
We would sit down in a restaurant, the waiter would bring us a menu, we would order a glass or decanter of wine, and then as soon as the waiter brought the wine to our table, he disappeared.
My friend became very impatient, mentioning several times that she really expected the service to be better in Paris. The service, she lamented, was awful. Irritably, she said she really expected more. I suppressed chuckling and finally explained to her as kindly as I could that the waiter was being polite. Meals, I explained, particularly evening meals, in France are a social time, an extended conversation, an art form of human exchange, a time to unplug from the clock and the world, an opportunity to enjoy friends or loved ones. It’s a cultural thing. I had to gently remind her we weren’t on a schedule and dining leisurely is part of the beauty of Paris.
The concept of “fast food” or gulping down a meal or rushing through dinner is simply abhorrent to most French. Good waiters respect your privacy and go to great lengths to avoid eavesdropping.
Meals in France are a time to slow down — because that is the only way you truly enjoy food. Once you swallow the bite, the taste is gone.
It is not uncommon for dinner to take two to three hours in France. This is an extremely foreign concept to most Americans. And equally odd to many Yanks is that in most French homes, even in the most humble of homes, guests are always welcome. To the French, dinner is always more wonderful with guests. Meals are all about friendships, conversations, the joy of sharing. And, of course, about the visceral delight of great food and wine.
By the third day you could see her shoulders begin to relax and the smiles radiating from her. By her last day in Paris, I have never seen her so relaxed. I can happily say that by the end of her stay she totally understood. And I am willing to bet dinner has remained a different experience for her since our visit in Paris.
Paris will do that to you.
It’s part of the art of living so Frenchly.
I hope you will browse the articles as they are posted on this website in the category sections under Cooking Tips & Techniques, Suggested Wine & Food Pairings, and of course Recipes. And being Keto ourselves, a large number of recipes on our website are either Keto-friendly or have Keto variations. We LOVE taking old French dishes and creating a Keto spin. So you will find a lot of that here.
But even more than that you will find Product Reviews with links to the best prices on our favorite kitchen appliances, cookware, kitchen gadgets, tableware, and even some of our favorite or hard-to-find ingredients.
And since a huge part of the magic of French food is top-quality fresh ingredients, we have sections both on Yard-to-Table Growing and Kitchen Greening — with dozens of ideas, suggestions, and product links to a lower waste and smaller footprint lifestyle.
You will see RECIPES here that are separated by the main ingredient rather than the “course” of a meal.
There are four reasons for this.
- ONE. It is easy to glance inside your fridge and see that you have Swiss Chard and Cauliflower, but not much else. All you have to do is look up recipes for what you have on hand, rather than find a recipe and then have make a grocery list and a take trip to the store to buy ingredients specifically for the recipe. The more your diet is focused on fresh produce, the more useful this is. It helps insure you use the freshest ingredients. And besides, it just makes sense.
- TWO. The more you begin preparing truly fresh food from yard-to-table, the more you become aware of growing seasons and the more you rely on them. So when you suddenly begin having a bumper crop of Broccoli, you can immediately finds lots of different variations of how to prepare Broccoli.
- THREE. The categories of foods on this website are centered on the main ingredients in a Keto diet, the 16 things most Keto-eaters focus on from day to day. But even if you are not Keto, these are healthy dishes very much in the French tradition, even if the recipes have been adapted to be grain free.
- FOUR. Courses are very different for the French than they are for Americans. Even informal meals in French homes actually are served in courses which means one at a time.They don’t just plop four or five dishes onto the table at once and say “Go to it.” Each separate taste is savored on its own. They take their time eating. Dinner, served one dish at a time, stretches over an hour or two, maybe three. Meals are not something the French hurry through. Meals are a time for people joined by heart to gather and enjoy, not only to enjoy the food and the wine but to enjoy spending time with the people. The center of a French meal is always the people, no matter how much they love the food and the wine. And they do love food and wine!
Most Recipes on this site are Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free and Keto. Many of them are Keto rifts on classic French recipes because that is Mimi’s personal bent. And each is designed for your family and guests to say: c’est délicieux!
We also have lots of articles describing the typical order of courses in a French meal and what kinds of food logically follow what other kinds of food. You will find those in the sections called Lifestyle and Suggestions for Wine & Food Pairings.
You will find our recipe database is continually growing. We post new recipes weekly, sometimes several times a week.
Take your time, browse at your leisure. And enjoy!
À la vôtre!