Tartiflette

A friend wrote to me after reading about my last entry on raclette. She had heard about it and wants to buy the “appliance” to do it when she is in France again. I see them everywhere and think it will be easy to find.
I also saw a raclette done at a restaurant in the French Alps. There was a big hunk of the rublechon cheese in front of a grill set on the table. As the cheese melted, it would be scraped of the big piece of cheese onto the plate with the potatoes.
Another popular dish from the same area-those Swiss are great with cheese dishes-is one called Tarteflette. I first saw it on a menu in a little cafe in a village called St Maurice. I saw the ingredients-hard to beat potatoes, onions, cheese and cream-and ordered it. Maurice turned it down as he said it was too heavy in the middle of the day and that it would stay with me a long time. He was right. It was very filling but very tasty. This isn’t a recipe that I have tried at home. I guess the closest I come is scalloped potatoes. The rublechon cheese adds a very different flavor, I think.
For an interesting look at this dish that the writer bought in Paris, go to: http://www.xanga.com/chezchristine and look under October 9th. Looks like it would have been good.

Raclette

Raclette is a fun meal that I discovered when Maurice made it for me after skiing in the French Alps, right across the border from Switzerland. Like fondue, also from the Swiss, it is melted roublechon cheese poured over boiled potatoes and some ham. We have a special little appliance that melts the cheese under a broiler and keeps the potatoes warm on the top. Nice and easy and great with some white wine from Savoie.


Here is the appliance with the potatoes keeping warm on top. The cheese is put in little metal pans and slide inside where the broiler unit is.

Here is the cheese being scraped out of the pan onto a pile of potatoes and ham. Note there are also cornichons, little dill pickles, that you eat with it.

Back in Provence


I wish this photo could show just how spectacular this rainbow was. I have never seen such a huge rainbow. Maybe it was because the sun was setting and shining directly across the sky to the water in the air. It was almost other-wordly and a delight to see.
We are back in Provence and returned to find a new crop of weeds and everything looking healthy and green, especially our grass, as it has been raining alot. I even had a crop of eggplants, zuchinni, and tomatoes waiting even though I didn’t leave a timed watering system going.


Here is the pile of zuchinni and eggplant. I ended up making a huge dish of ratatouille and then some eggplant parmesean. One of the zuchinnil is the largest zuchinni I’ve ever seen. It must weigh about 10 pounds and it was a foot and a half long. It has really tough skin and is rather woody tasting so I’m not sure if I’m going to cook anything with it or not.

I left it in Paris


Aren’t these cool shoes? They were worn by a guy who cut my hair. I can’t remember his name but I sure remember his shoes. I have found a good place to get my hair done in Paris, Coiffirst, which in on Rue du Buci, down a little courtyard. I’ve had my hair done there by 4 different people, and like all of their work. My first time there, however, I almost decided not to return as a lady who was having her hair frosted, was sitting there smoking. It hasn’t happened since, though.

I Left It In Paris. This is often our refrain. Just yesterday Maurice was looking for some glue. I knew I had bought a stick of glue and we looked everywhere for it before I remembered that it was in a drawer in our kitchen in Paris. I’ve never had two residences before and, being the forgetful person I am, can’t remember what is where. I have duplicated hair blowers and make-up just so I don’t have to carry them back and forth. I have a set of clothes, mostly casual and excercise ware for working in the yard, in Provence, and a dressier set in Paris. I find I am wearing things over and over as I have fewer pieces in each place, not a bad thing. The only thing I always lug back and forth is my laptop computer. One of these days, I may have a computer in each place but then I wouldn’t have my photos, etc., in one place or another.
Having two separate kitchens is interesting as well. In Paris, I have a hand held mixer, but not in Provence. Here I have one of those immersible blender thingies, sort of like a blender, the old fashioned kind, but you don’t pour a mixture into the blender, you put the blender into the container, if you know what I mean. I have a food processer in Provence, but not Paris. I do alot more cooking in Provence and try new recipes mostly because all of my cookbooks are there.
I can’t really complain since I am lucky enough to live in two places in France but it sure is a source of frustration sometimes.

More on Gownless in France

More On Topless in France

The comment by someone in Singapore (I can’t help but to wonder if the americans are being too paranoid? No offense to you but I just find it very interesting about the reactions of the American. ) got me thinking some more about cultural differences. Because she is from Singapore, she really doesn’t understand my feelings, and they were very traumatic to me, about not having a gown for an x-ray or doctor’s examination. Truly, you have to be an American to understand how I felt. I’ve told this story to other Americans and they get it. That Puritanical streak is bone deep and I don’t know if I will ever be able to get rid of it. I know my husband is very mystified by it. Why can’t I go for a free mammogram? Why is the thought of it so repellant to me? He and our doctor sat there once in an office and discussed it in front of me. I wasn’t the first American in whom she had seen this trait.
I’m sure it is similar to cultural food differences. You won’t see me eating horse meat or even sweet little rabbits, no matter how tasty they might be, mustard sauce and all, even with a good bottle of Burgundy. I imagine there are people in China who shake their heads with bewilderment when Americans are horrified that little dogs are being served up for dinner, or a snake or two.
Back to Puritanism, I remember my ex-husband spanking our daughter when she was about 4 years old for playing “doctor” with a neighborhood boy. Somewhere around the age of 5 or so, she never took baths with her brothers or was undressed in front of them. Maurice’s grandchildren have no problem with nudity and are very unselfconscious about it. I need to do some research but I think it was only recently, within the last 30 years or so, that it wasn’t against the law to go topless on a French beach. I think the French have been considered more open about sex and nudity both in real life and movies for many years. It does seem to me, as far as movies go, that America is catching up here.
A couple of years ago, I was walking around on a Montmartre street and here came two men walking towards me, both totally nude. My French was practically non-existant then but I gathered that they were promoting nudity. There was even a strange lady with them wearing a coat over a slip videotaping them. I don’t know if she was going to join them and chickened out at the last minute. I asked a lady at a bar that they went into if she was shocked and I could tell by her face that she was. She said if a policeman saw them that they would be arrested, French or not. Luckily, I had my trusty digital camera with me and got several photos of them-they happily posed for me- one of which was the two of them talking to some startled diners with their exposed “privates” at face level. I captioned the photo, “How is the sausage here?”
In any case, there is a wide divide between cultures although being human gives us many similarites. Life is always interesting, that’s for sure.

My Favorite French Recipes

Here is a really easy recipe that tastes terrific. All of my recipes, by the way, are from an out of print cookbook that Maurice found in Austin-written by two American ladies.

Garlicky Scallops and Shrimp (Fruits de Mer a la Provencale)

6 large sea scallops (for 2 people)
6-8 large shrimp, peeled. You can leave the tails on if you want.
flour, for dusting
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Rinse the scallops under cold running water. Pat dry and cut in half
crosswise. Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper and
dust lightly with flour, shaking off excess.
Heat oil in large frying pan over high heat and add scallops and shrimp.
Reduce heat to medium-high, turn the scallops and shrimp, add the garlic
and basil, shaking pan to distribute them evenly. Cook for 2 minutes more
until golden and just firm to the tourch. Sprinkle the lemon juice over and toss
to blend. Serve with rice.
You can remove scallops and shrimp after cooking to warm plate, pour 4 Tbsp
dry white wine into pan and boil to reduce by half. Add 1 Tbsp butter whisking
until it melts and pour over scallops and shrimp. Good, but not necessary.