Les Apparences Sont Parfois Trompeuses
That’s how you say “appearances can be deceiving” in French. And in addition to the language lesson I’m here to testify that even food cooked with love, in France, by me, can be surprising and disappointing. Not everything is as it seems, not even in my own kitchen where I usually feel like I’m the mistress of my universe.
This vin d’orange looked beautiful after its two weeks of infusing bitter oranges into rosé and eau de vie. But our neighbor, retired from the restaurant business and thus an honest and reliable source of opinions about French foods, tasted it and pronounced it the only thing he’d tasted from my kitchen that wasn’t right. He thinks time will cure it, and I certainly hope he’s not just being polite. I’ve got about 5 liters of the stuff, and I really want it to be wonderful.
These goat cheeses had several weeks to soak in a bath of olive oil, garlic, thyme and juniper berries. They look splendid, but in reality they absorbed almost none of the flavors they’d been in bed with. What we did get was some really delicious goat cheese-flavored olive oil, not something you can use every day and not exactly what we were looking for.
And speaking of looks, doesn’t this look pretty much like a dog’s breakfast? But in fact, this sauté of baby Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, smothered in Maroilles cheese and melted into unctuosity, was utterly addictive.
Then there was this giant asparagus. Roasted with olive oil it tasted as delicious as it looks. But later…and now we’re going to talk about a problem that doesn’t get a lot of air time: asparagus pee. This asparagus was the absolute champion, the epitome, the undisputed king of evil pee producers. It made for pee that no open window could assuage, that lasted for hours, and I mean like 24 hours, that made it impossible to even contemplate using a public bathroom. And yes, there are too public bathrooms in France. But not for people who eat this asparagus, if they have any sort of social conscience at all, which you’ll be happy to know we do.
So take heart, near occasions of failure are everywhere. The good thing about failure is that it gives you a second chance, a new lease on life, the occasion to redeem yourself and make it all right the next time. However, as much as I love second chances, the next time I see asparagus as long as my forearm, green-tipped, white of stalk, violet-tinged, I’m walking away from the table. And if you trust me, you will too.