But Does She Ever Cook?
I think it was Marion Cunningham who famously remarked, on being served a dessert by Alice Waters that consisted of a perfect apple, as raw and naked as it came from the tree “but my dear, that’s not cooking, that’s shopping!”
It’s all my fault, but I’m afraid that you might be getting the idea that in France I never cook, only shop for and serve beautiful food from the hands of others. Mais non, pas du tout! I do cook, it’s just that shopping is so easy here, so tempting.
Right now I have this beautiful casserole in the oven, with delicious spirals of lamb shoulder stuffed with thyme, smothered in celery root and garlic and a good pour of a local rosé. Ok, the butcher made the spirals, and a local potter made the gorgeous dish, but hey, I’m doing my best with what I have to work with.
Also on the menu tonight are these mousserons, which are translated as fairy ring mushrooms.
They have a mysterious fruity fragrance as they cook, but the taste is pretty subtle in comparison to their startling beauty. I think these little guys, each about the size of a dime, are much improved by a splash of Armagnac. But then, what isn’t? They’re all sautéed now, waiting to grace a side of pasta in a light bath of fresh cream.
I’m really only showing you the prep, not the finished dishes, as our young guest will soon be arriving from Oregon, worn out and famished, and I’ll want to put food on the table as soon as she arrives, unencumbered by a camera. So I guess you’ll have to take my word for it that actual cooking is going on.
No, wait. There was ham for lunch!
In this case in a gratin of endive sautéed in goose fat, with a béchamel, a heavy dusting of Comté, and some pain de mie crumbs. It was fabulously rich, bitter and sweet, just what we needed on a day when French girls roamed the streets in parkas and we kept the heat on all day long.
See, I do cook.