Sunday, May 03, 2009

Le French Cuisine

For a very long time, I've had a love-hate relationship with French cuisine. Some of it is very, very good. The pastries are amazing. And yet, it's horrendously complicated, and so insanely diverse that it's hard to keep it all straight. Particularly when you add in all the peasant food, which is really the good stuff.

So, for many years, I've kept an eye out for French cookbooks and have bought a few (I torture myself with Cordon Bleu publications), but nothing really fit the bill. Then yesterday, I found this.

It was on sale, and I was in a book-buying mood, and it was French, and I figured what the hell.

Turns out to be exactly what I needed; not a book of French recipes, but a book ABOUT French food. All that stuff I always wanted to know about wine, and liqueurs, and cheeses, and breads? All in there. (Also stuff on meats and sausages. I'm never eating anduille again, but I won't ruin it for the rest of you.)

At three hundred plus pages of densely written information, it's going to get me a while to get through. And while there are very few recipes, there are a great many descriptions of different dishes, making it possible to recreate them.

The first time I tried to make French buttercream, I poured boiling sugar syrup into my running mixer. It hit the whisk attachment as it went past, and flung sugar everywhere. At first I couldn't see, until I realized I had little cotton-candy strings of sugar hanging from my eyelashes. Years later, when we moved, I found strings of sugar syrup bonded to the back wall of the pantry.

It took three days to get the sugar syrup out of Sekhmet's fur. She was pissed.

This new round of experimentation should be interesting. I'll make sure to document it for everyone. Especially anything disastrous. We're moving in three months. Who cares what sticks to the walls?


WikiBobo said...


I know what's in the andouille, but I eat it anyway!

Louiz said...

Looking forward to it.

Amy Lane said...

BUWHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!! (Sorry--that bit about the sugar streamers was CLASSIC!) Anyway, as that little rat thing in Bolt keeps chanting, "Let it begin, oh LET IT BEGIN!"

Bells said...

French is one of the areas I'm weak on. I haven't explored it a lot. seemed to fussy. I will watch you!

NeedleTart said...

Best instructions for French Butter cream? Rose Levy Berenbaum's Cake Bible. She studied baking in France and is very scientific in her explanations (not just what to do but why).

Barbara said...

One of the few words I remember from all my years of studying French is green beans. Peasant food is always better than "cuisine," in my humble opinion. Bring on les haricots vert! Should be fun to watch.

Roxie said...

Molten sugar into the beaters is a lot like the shit hitting the fan. Did you incur any significent burns?

Do not look too closely into the contents of ANY sausage. Or hot dog.

Mandy said...

Did you burn yourself? The first time I make caramel custard, I dropped the spoon into the caramel and tried to grab it out again. Big mistake! Boiling sugar is really hot! And having it that close to your eyes... *shudder*.

I'll look forward to your further adventures in French cooking!

Alwen said...

I am 12! My first reaction to that book cover was "Guess what? Chicken butt!"