A few weeks ago, when we thought that MCM would be moving to England with me, he said, "We're going to really enjoy being back in the UK... cooking together... going to the market... trying new recipes."
If this were a TV sitcom ("a serie", as my French students like to say), you'd hear that tape-rewinding sound right now. Huh? Come again? Don't we live in France?
MCM and I have been keen cooks for a long time but our culinary skills have not improved here. We haven't radically frenchified the way we eat, such that we actually associate great homecooking with the UK. How weird is that? I've thought about why this is and here's what I came up with:
- We have a crappy little fridge with a tiny freezer compartment. This is the kind of fridge an American would buy for a dormitory.
- We have a crappy little oven - it's a combination convection oven, microwave and broiler/grill. When a French apartment says "unfurnished," it really means unfurnished. We're lucky we didn't have to supply our own crappy little fridge and kitchen cabinets.
- Paris has lots of great restaurants. Our former UK city didn't so we had much more incentive to cook.
- We used to entertain a lot, but here we don't have much space - our table only seats 4. We also don't have as many people to invite over.
- We've been alternately stressed/cheap/busy. Traditional French cuisine is based on great ingredients (often expensive), exquisite technique (time-consuming), and shopping almost everyday (are you serious?). As much as I love French food, I've often felt that it depends on someone, usually a woman, not working and having the time to do all that shopping and cooking.
- French cooking magazines tend to feature extremely elaborate foods, rather than nice ideas for weeknight meals. We're a bit lacking in inspiration for our normal life.
- MCM really appreciates French food but he is also very curious about other kinds of food and doesn't feel French food is the be all and end all. Plus, he was on a diet for a while...
Here's what we do differently since we've moved here:
- Lots more wine! Recently it's been a nice little rose that costs 2.80 a bottle. We probably drink wine every night, as it's so affordable, accessible and enjoyable.
- We buy bread every single day. We love the fresh baguettes and, because they are preservative-free, you can't stock up.
- We have always been the type to sit and eat dinner together, but we're more likely to have a simple French starter now: a slice of melon, a bowl of vegetable soup, etc. I like this, as a good way to unwind when you sit down and a way to get more vegetables.
- We eat a wider range of meats, including guinea fowl, veal and rabbit, which are cheaper and more widely available than in the US or UK.
This weekend we're going to visit MCM's parents. His mother is a very good traditional French cook and always makes multiple courses - even at lunchtime. (MCM's dad used to drive home from work for lunch before he retired). I'll be reporting back on what we eat to give you a sense of what this kind of eating is all about.
Chocolate Buckwheat Pound Cake Recipe
6 hours ago