There’s a French movie which I’m not supposed to admit having watched, called Le divorce, with Kate Hudson. In the movie, Richard Fry’s character, some British art dealer in France, is served with a boiled egg and remarks something to the effect of: trust the French to serve a boiled egg with panache.
Yep, the French are alot about panache – they serve the usual food but add enough drama to it. And I was reminded of it when the class came to have lunch at my house.
The menu I served was:
- Spinach quiche – a spinache, mushroom and egg dish baked in a pie crust with cheese topping
- Ratatouille – a vegetable dish
- Boeuf bourgignon – beef cooked in red wine
- Gratin dauphinoise – a potato dish
- Tarte tatin (dessert) – an upside down apple pie with apples cooked in butter and sugar and then baked with a pie crust, which we served with ice cream
What I didn’t anticipate was how expensive the menu would be. I won’t talk about the meat dish which used steak and read wine.
The other thing about the meal was that I could be easily accused of trying to give my students a heart attack. The quiche and the gratin had cream, eggs, milk and cheese, and ingredients fried in butter. It makes sense when we know how farm produce is a major element of French cuisine. That said, the dessert was healthier than every dish besides the ratatouille.
And I should mention that the cream and butter were difficult to find in our supermarkets because, I think, the drought has reduced the amount of milk available for processing.
As for the ratatouille – I didn’t realize how much the movie had influenced the cooking of the dishes. The very neat vegetable arranged in a coil is the movie version of the dish and the first one I found. I was going to panic, then I found all the other recipes that don’t need artwork in the pan. What I found interesting was that ratatouille was a dish for poor people (tells you I haven’t watched the movie).
I used a British video recipe for the gratin (which I’m sure would give any true French person a heart attack), and it called for adding cheese to the cream mixture that is added to the potatoes. Weeks later, I just discovered from a French video that the true gratin is not supposed to have cheese. But I hope to be forgiven, because the gratin was delicious!
I’ve had French cuisine before, but I didn’t realize how rich the food is until now. It was a very tasty meal. Regular ingredients with a lot of panache. But very expensive. I’m not sure I’ll do this again. At least not these dishes.