France is known as the land where cuisine is a serious affair, and a lot of this is portrayed in French films. A few examples are Ratatouille, Julie and Julia and A hundred foot journey (which is Indian but the characters move to France). There’s even a term- gastronomy- that refers to “the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food.” So how could we do a whole semester of French class without actually trying out French food? It would be ridiculous! One of the weeks, therefore, our beloved lecturer made us a French meal, which consisted of Spinach quiche, Ratatouille, Gratin dauphinoise, Boeuf bourgignon, and Tarte tatin. I will walk you through all of these dishes because each was an experience on its own 🙂
First, spinach quiche. Quiche is basically a pastry filled with eggs and milk with either vegetables or meat. The egg and the milk set and make the pastry firm. Its origin is said to be France, but it is popular in other countries as well. Dr. Wandia decided to make it with spinach because we had a vegetarian in our class. The spinach quiche was a pleasant surprise because I only previously have known two ways to make spinach- frying and steaming. I never thought spinach could be in a pastry, and that it could be enjoyable.
– retrieved from onceuponachef.com
Then, there was ratatouille. I must say I had major expectations for what this dish was like especially because of the film- where the guy tastes it and it’s so good it brings back childhood memories in a flashback… The ratatouille was really good, but I think the movie oversold it. It’s basically a vegetable dish, made of onions, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and zucchini, (and whatever other vegetable you may want to include) fried and somewhat stewed but not quite.
–retreived from food52.com
Next, gratin dauphinoise. This was the dish that made me wonder the most. Gratin dauphinois is a dish made of potatoes and crème fraiche. It is a traditional dish and according to Wikipedia, it is also called pommes de terre dauphinoise, potatoes à la dauphinoise and gratin de pommes à la dauphinoise. All those names basically are saying the same thing -potato dish from Dauphiné, which is a region South East of France. The potatoes in this dish are sliced thin while still raw and baked in the crème for more than an hour. Cheese may or may not be added. It is therefore a very rich, creamy dish, and some of us were joking around saying if we had to eat French even for a week, we would need to take working out seriously…
-retrieved from google search
Boeuf bourgignon (beef stewed in red wine). This one was my favorite. I had heard of it before in my French classes in high school- where we had to learn to write French recipes, but only for the sake of the final exam. We didn’t ever make them. So, this was in a way a dream come true. The beef (steak) is chopped in bigger chunks and onions and mushrooms sometimes are added to the dish, together with whatever else you like in your stew. The dish was unlike anything I have tasted before- there is a way you expect a stew to taste- this was beyond that. I loved it 🙂
-retrieved from http://www.travelchannel.com
Notice, however, that in all these dishes so far, there has been minimal to zero use of spice. We found it quite different because all of us associated good food with the right use of spices. Apparently there are many ways to cook once you begin to explore.
Finally, for dessert we had tarte tatin. This is another pastry- but made with apples in caramelized sugar. It is also called apple up-side-down according to Linda, who has lived in a Francophone country for a while. This is because when it is baked, the pastry is made over the apple, but when served, the fruit side is turned up. It didn’t hit me that the fruit in the pastry was apple because of how soft it was and because of the flavor the caramelized sugar gave it as well. It was served cooled with ice cream and was the perfect way to top the whole meal up.
–retrieved from dramaticpancake.com
If you still aren’t convinced to take this class… I don’t know what else you need to hear.
Somi Elsie 🙂