Wednesday, September 12, 2007

French Food is Not Heavy

I often hear people say that French food is "heavy" and to be honest I can't understand what they are talking about. I have grown up with French food and cooked it all of my adult life (unfortunately, we are talking about a span of nearly half a century). Like Julia Child, my mother also attended the Cordon Bleu while she was on lay-over in Paris when she was a hostess in the 50's. I grew up with Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon and Poulet au Vin Blanc and the dish most often destroyed nowadays: Vol au Vent. I never thought of any of these dishes as heavy... quite the opposite actually, it was my grandmother's American food that always did me in. Fried Chicken with giblet gravy and mashed potatoes took all day to over-come and Thanksgiving dinner usually put me in bed for 24 hours. Yankee pot roast was another story all together.... add to that, the tremendous amounts of sugar that kept me bouncing off the walls and you really have a cuisine worth bitching about. French food never bothered me nor did I ever consider it heavy or unbalanced in any way.

In properly prepared French cuisine the sauces are balanced, so the use of cream is counter-acted by the acidity of the wine or the addition of some lemon juice. Additionally, when you eat French food you should always drink wine with it. It is part of the meal and without it, the food becomes unbalanced, probably unhealthy and certainly less enjoyable. I had an American friend who didn't like wine but professed to love fine food (especially French). He always ordered ice tea or (more often) a coke. I never understood how he could do this. I mention this only because he died at the age of 37 from a heart attack... c'est la vie.


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