OK my dear vegan friends, this post is not for you. I love you and respect you, but please don’t read.
Where to begin to talk about the food in France? Ahhhhhh
Pictures speak louder than words.
But before I get started in on our Burgundian foodie delights, an aside. And a personal note. As many of my friends know, I used to be a vegetarian. For, oh, 20 years. I stopped eating beef in the early 80’s (why, yes, when I was a mere child :)), and soon after stopped pork and chicken, and by the late 80’s I stopped eating fish as well. Not for moral reasons (although I remain morally opposed to factory farming). I can’t remember why I started down the road, but after I did, I kept going. It felt right at the time.
Of course, what many of my current friends don’t know (but some longtime friends most likely suspect), I was also traveling down Anorexia Street at about the same time, although at the time I was in deep denial. Controlling the amount and kind of food I put in my mouth was, in retrospect, a way to gain control over my unhappy life. Textbook, I was. When I got down to under 100 lbs at 5ft 6in, even I (subconsciously) knew that I was in trouble. Somehow, I stopped myself from really harming myself, or killing myself. I was never formally treated for the Anorexia, but through other therapy I gradually gave up the outward behaviors of the Anorexic: Eating rituals. Measuring out calories. Over exercise. Constant worry about and focus on food. Bulimia and I never got along, Thank the Lord. But in all other respects I was a Classic Anorexic. Eventually I kind of started to enjoy food – as long as it wasn’t too fatty or high in calories. I struggled with the Anorexic tendencies for years after. It stayed with me for a long time, popping up every once and a while. But somehow, through hard work in other areas of my life, I finally conquered it. I got my life under control. It took some work. But I’m finally there.
I mention that to celebrate my evolution, from Anorexic to Foodie/Happy Chef. Because I also never liked to cook then (who wants to cook when you don’t want to eat?). A big huge reason for that evolution (revolution) is thanks to my husband Jim. He taught me how to, and then helped me to, open my senses, all of them: to taste and smell and sight and feeling. And from him I learned to appreciate and love food, all food. And wine, and chocolate! Gradually, living with my beloved carnivorous boys, I started eating fish again, and I remembered how much I loved me a steamed crab. And beer. And then I wanted chicken, and after that French ham, and finally I decided that I craved a nice grass-fed hormone free steak. I eat it all now, everything, and give thanks. I do buy organic vegetables, and meat that is organic and grass fed and free range and processed as minimally as possible. But I feel like it’s what my body needs for now.
So, as you can see, I’ve traveled far to get where I am, both literally and figuratively, and that brings me right back to the title of my post. Why I love France: Why, the food!
Because in France, they respect the seasons, and the land. Food is most definitely NOT some mass-produced slop, meant to be consumed from plastic, on the run. Yes, of course you can find that kind of food there. But there is, thankfully, still a powerful cultural respect for farm to table in the true sense of the word. Terroir rules. All you need to see to know that is the markets. The vendors are proud of their products, and rightly so!
So, in Burgundy, we ate snails, which you could find here, in the local supermarket
And here, in the most fabulous soup (at Aupres du Clocher in Pommard)
and then there was the wonderful Bresse chicken in epoisses sauce. Oh my, that epoisses. It was unlike any cheese I’ve ever tasted. Smelly but creamy and delicious, We had it after most meals, and in my favorite presentation, as a “grilled cheese and side of mousse”.
Every time I tasted it I made what Jim called my cheese face. Too funny. I ate so much cheese! Don’t let me near that cart again!
One look around the market in Beaune tells you what’s in season. It’s fall, so that means mushrooms. I had so many different kind of mushrooms, in sauces and soup.
And it’s game season, so we ate quail, and pigeon
and wild duck, in a sauce made from the wine that’s made from the grapes that were picked from the vineyards all around us. We had rabbit.
And of course, we also had Beef (cheeks) Bourguignon. And dessert of frozen Marc de Bourgogne soufflé.
We also had some delightful seafood dishes. Jim had a raie with capers dish at Ma Cuisine in Beaune that knocked his socks off. And one night, burned out from all that rich Burgundian cuisine, we had one of the best pizzas ever at this little Italian place called La Tavola Calda. (the wine was from Burgundy though, of course).
More on that part in the next installment. The WINE! Thanks for reading and indulging, Especially my Vegan peeps…