3 Tips from My Latest Book Obsession: In a French Kitchen
I am a little late to the game with reading Susan Loomis. My mother handed me a whole stack of her books last winter and I noticed the first one was written over a decade ago! Needless to say I read them cover-to-cover in just a few weeks and have steadily cooking my way through a lot of her recipes. My favorite of her bunch is In a French Kitchen. I’ve recommended it before and am here to do so again.
My favorite part about this book is how it delves deep into the inner workings of French kitchens and the home cooks who run them. There is all kinds of information from how stock your pantry to how to approach your morning breakfast routine á la Francaise. It even includes month-to-month menus (with recipes!) so you can eat seasonally appropriate French food all year long.
Here are three of my favorite tidbits from the book!:
On Snacking: Snacks time is institutionalized in France and for a good reason. The French don’t eat between meals except for goûter, a set snack time every day between 4 and 5pm. It is usually something sweet, though sometimes might be cheese, and it is eaten sitting down by the whole family. It is intended to tide you over until dinner and is looked forward to by everyone. I often struggle with mindless grazing and I love the idea of having one fantastic snack to look forward to each afternoon.
On Cheese: According to Susan, “More than half of the French population eats cheese daily; only 10 percent think they can survive one week without it. What’s more, the average French person eats more than fifty pounds of cheese a year.” So, basically, this is my kind of country. Susan devotes an entire chapter to the French love of cheese and the science behind it. She includes loads of useful information from how to set up a cheese plate, the difference between raw and pasteurized cheeses, how to store cheese and, of course, several delectable cheese recipes.
On the beauty of the French breakfast: I’ve always been a breakfast eater, but over time I’ve become less interested in large heavy sweet breakfasts. Now I prefer eggs with a pinch of black truffle salt and a piece of fresh toast with jam. My daughter is similar in her breakfast tastes and often adds in a hot mug of Ovaltine. It turns out we would be right at home in France because the French breakfast at home is, curiously, rarely about croissants. Susan gives examples of how it is often about warm breads, butters, jams, hot coffee, sweet cereals (never dusty Weetabix!). Breakfast is an essential part of the French day, but is never lengthy or fussy. Everyone sits down and helps themselves to toasts, yogurts, and assorted toppings before getting on their way. I love the idea of this breakfast buffet and intend to do it in my own home more this year.
Thank you, Susan, for all the great tips!