Cooking In The Homesick Kitchen

People are always asking me what I miss from home.  Normally I say something like “Gosh, almost nothing, because, well, we’re in France.  What’s to miss?”  Don’t take this personally, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss you, because of course I do.  They’re not asking who I miss, it’s more about “stuff.”  And usually stuff is the last thing on my mind.

But then today I was doing a little housecleaning of my hard drive, which seems to be where I keep most of my stuff these days.  And as I cleaned up old photos, an amazing number of which are of food I’ve cooked, I realized that there are some things I miss.

I miss baking.  I don’t do much here because the oven is small and baking pans and cookie sheets are hard to come by and there’s a bakery next door.

I miss baking my own bread.  This I don’t do because, well, we’re in France and you have to be nuts to bake your own bread here.

I miss making my own charcuterie at home.  This is another “duh, we’re in France” item.  I have made a few patés and terrines since we’ve been here, but it’s pretty silly, and I only do it to be a contrarian.


I miss cooking in cast iron skillets.  99% of all pots here are non-stick, and it’s just not the same.

I miss cooking in the smoker.  If you have a smoker you know there’s no substitute.  And if you don’t have a smoker, get one and smoke something for me.

I miss Mexican food.  It’s the one thing we haven’t been able to find here.  Probably you’ll find this hard to believe, but there is in fact Old El Paso stuff in the stores, which I think claims to have some Mexican heritage.  Like I said, I miss Mexican food.

I miss Rancho Gordo beans, for my money easily the most beautiful and delicious beans I’ve ever found anywhere.

And I miss cooking with spices.  French food is about herbs, and minimal use of them, just the barest hint so as not to disguise the flavor of the food itself.  I’ve made a lot of delicious food here, but as Shel said the other day, my cooking isn’t as wham! pow! as it used to be.

So yeah, I guess I do miss some things after all.  Because, well, we’re in France where life is different, and as so many people have said before me, vive la différence.  But if you want to send me a smoker, feel free!


Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

6 Comments on “Cooking In The Homesick Kitchen”

  1. Klary Says:

    I’ve heard about a good Mexican restaurant here in Amsterdam.. I guess that should be on the schedule then!

  2. Mmmm…I would have a hard time without Mexican food, too.

  3. Arne Says:

    We held or annual Pigfest yesterday … butts, ribs, and chicken for the vegetarians! Consider it a smoke held in your honour.

  4. Ray Says:

    what about the influence of Moroccan cooking in France……any inspiration for it in your ‘neck of the bois’?

  5. Betty C. Says:

    I don’t know exactly where you live, but other than the smoker, most of these things you miss seem to be doable in France. Why not make your own bread? And I bake quite a bit — at times — because I’m not so crazy about a lot of the French pastries available (too sweet for my tastes, not to mention expensive.

    I found something resembling cookie sheets years back, but just the other day I saw a similar item that actually had cookies on the packaging! (It was in a Géant hypermarket.)

    OK, El Paso Mexican does get, well, old but I’m sure you can find Mexican spices on Internet. I actually cook with spices a lot — get on Internet and you will find plenty of spicy recipes on a big site like (in French so adapted to French ingredients.)

    Of course, it’s NICE to miss some things. My daughters are chagrined at the arrival of Oreo cookies in France, for example — it’s something they enjoy the US, and to them it just doesn’t seem right to be able to buy them at Monoprix!

    Interesting post! My comments almost turned into a post themselves!

  6. We leave for Italy tomorrow. In anticipation I’m eating corn, soft shell crabs and as much Chinese food as I can hold! I’m handing carrying lots of smoked chili peppers.
    I’m with on the viva la difference but I sure wish I could bring along my cast iron pots!!

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