Friday, October 31, 2008

French Food Books .. to get you in the mood…ooh la la

There is nothing quite like food to put you in mind of a place, or to conjure memories of a sojourn. Travelers headed to France, or those who have been, will enjoy these food-filled books written by creative women dedicated to truly good food with a local and organic focus.

Clotilde Dusoulier has a friendly, easy way of conveying the delights and nuances of French food with a focus on fresh, local, organic foods. She has written her blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, for five years and has authored two books. Her recipes are not only delicious, but are inspired from daily necessities, like what to do with crème fraiche that is about to grow mold, and incorporating it into an amazing Chocolate Frozen yogurt (see her blog for the recipe – yum!)

Her cookbook, Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen (ISBN 978 0767923835) is a colorful, paperback that grew out of Clotilde’s blog. The book has over 75 enticing recipes including my favorites – the Curried Turkey Sandwich and her Tarte Chocolate Caramel. I love the French green, Mache (see photo), which Clotilde includes in a delectable salad. Mache is cheap, delicious and available all over France year round – an everyperson’s food.

For those traveling to Paris, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris (978-0767926133) is a must have guide. This is not a cookbook (although it does contain some recipes), but rather a personal guide through the restaurants, cafés and markets of Paris. You will find information on 164 eating establishments, plus 130 listings of bakeries, and shops of varying interests from bookstores to kitchenware, as well as markets throughout the city. Clotilde provides in depth descriptions of each spot so you can decide which peak your interest. Please note that these are not necessarily organic or vegetarian food stops.

For more French food indulgences explore Barefoot In Paris, by Ina Garten (ISBN 9781400049356). Made famous as the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has put her talents to the extreme in Barefoot in Paris. The full-color book offers truly delicious, sensible recipes like Salmon and Lentils. But the Piéce-de-resistance are the desserts – oh my gosh – desserts to die for… Mango Sorbet, Profiteroles, Coeur a la Crème with Raspberries.

Written in a narrative style rather than cookbook form, A Pig in Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan (ISBN 9780156033244), focuses on the local foods of Provence, the southeastern region of France known for its lavender, truffles, herbs and other delicacies. Georgeanne writes of her personal experiences living in Provence over thirty years ago including how she learned to make traditional, fresh goat cheese, and offers a special recipe at the end of each of the eight chapters.

Georgeanne has written numerous cookbooks and offers weekend cooking classes at her Northern California farm, “Provence in California Culinary Weekends.” Her farm is surrounded by other organic farms and the weekend begins with a trip to the local farmer’s market. Each class weekend runs from 9-3:30 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sundays – you are responsible for your own accommodations and evening meals.

When Georgeanne is not cooking or writing, she is working to increase the use of fresh, local, seasonal foods in her California school district.

For the France bound traveler, check out the beautiful, renovated, stone house that Georgeanne rents in the country northeast of Aix-en-Provence from April to October. See "Village House" on her website.

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