A French Recipe

A little market shop in Gordes

Favorite French Recipes

I’ve developed a complex in France. It has to do with cooking and the fact that I am an American. Many French assume that Americans can’t cook, or at least cook anything that they would want to eat. On a walk in our neighborhood we stopped to talk to a nice man about the progress of his swimming pool. I should say, Maurice stopped to talk to him while I stood there, mostly mute, trying to catch all they were saying. I had put some osso bucco in the oven before we left and I looked at my watch and realized that we needed to get back so it didn’t overcook. Maurice told our French neighbor this and this nice man expressed surprise that I knew how to cook this dish, even though it is Italian and not one of the famous French dishes. Too bad I didn’t have him over to taste how good it was.
This isn’t the only time something like this has happened. We had some French friends over for a quick meal before we went to our village to see a little musical entertainment. I made a salad and a quiche. They took a bite of the quiche and the lady actual had the nerve to ask me if I had help making it, like I wasn’t capable of making a quiche by myself since I was an American. I was glad I was able to surprise them.
Somehow, the French are under the impression that Americans are bad cooks. I wonder where this comes from? Maybe from years before when we used to scandalize the French in restaurants by asking for ketchup or drinking coke with our meal?
I’ve become a little paranoid when cooking for French visitors, even my husband. I never know when he is going to get that look on his face that makes me feel like I am a culinary failure. I am being weighed in those French scales of hundreds of years of tradition and famous food.
Anyway, I have been trying French dishes since coming to France and while I am far from being at the professional level, I thought I would periodically share some of my favorites. I have found that some of the best dishes I have made are the most simple and that fresh ingredients is usually the reason why. The French don’t use processed foods in their cooking. You won’t find any canned cream of mushroom or chicken soup in the recipes, nor that dried onion soup mixed on top, all of which I used to use regularly.
We’ve had a surplus of zucchini from our garden and found this recipe so we could use some of it. We like it better than the ratatouille that we usually make.

Zucchini and Tomato Bake (Tian Provencal)

1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1 large onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, cut in slices
1 pound zucchini, cut in slices, diagonally
1 tsp dried herbs de Provence
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over low heat and cook the onion and garlic for about 20 munutes until soft and golden. Spread over the base of a shallow baking dish. Use a pretty one, if you;ve got one.
Cut the tomatoes and zucchini into slices.
Arrnage alternating rows of zucchini and tomatoes over the onion mixture and sprinkle with herbs, cheese and salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil then bake for about 25 mintues until the vegetable are tender. (Arrange the tomatoes in the center of the dish and surround them with the zucchini for a really pretty dish. We use more Parmesan cheese and olive oil than is called for.)

2 thoughts to “A French Recipe”

  1. I tried your Zucchini and Tomato Bake – very tasty. You didn’t happen to get a recipe from your French friends for a traditional blend to make herbs de provence ?? I would love to make it at home, but can’t get the blend right.

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