Friday, March 09, 2012

The recipes of my grandma and my vision on cooking :

If you ever meet up with me, you would get it ! I like cooking and eating. I am not a real Chef because I have no passion or determination to achieve perfection in cooking, but I love good food. 

I’ve been surrounded with good cookers in my family. Both sides ! My grandmother (mother’s side), my grandfather (father’s side), my father, my aunt (mother’s side) and a few cousins were, and still are, excellent cookers.

They were all different and equal to excellence. Some cook with spices, some do only French basics, and others are elaborating recipes on their own, from Hungarian, Italian, Russian or British cooking.
My grandmother was an excellent cooker and she learnt in her early years. I had started a notebook with the family recipes at age 11 and added through the years the ones she was taught by relatives and my grandfather’s family members. In Périgord, we were used to stay whole Sunday afternoon around the table. Noon was the beginning of the meal and 6 pm the ending. We surely didn’t eat six hours straight, but it last six hours full of discussions, jokes, family stories and Historic purposes. Politic, money and religion were banished from the family table conversation. Nevertheless, some old cousins would put that regular topics up and the arguments were hectic.  Family lunches !

Her notebook is most likely the most treasured material I own from her. Her handwriting is so precious to me and the recipes are everlasting. When I wrote my book upon my village, I put some of her recipes inside, because I thought that cooking is one of the bases of mankind.

Whenever you want to know a country and/or a civilization, you have two ways to do so : History & cooking. You can learn a lot through cooking because people open their kitchens, their way of doing it and sometimes their family secrets. Doing a recipe with someone commonly opens the “souvenir box”. You would say “my aunt used to do that”, “my mom used that veggie” etc. You would mention dead and beloved people or someone you don’t see that often. We share lunches and dinners with people we love(d). Especially in France, we like to share cooking. It’s a real pleasure to invite people you care of, at home for a dinner or a lunch. Whatever you would cook, you will share this bond of this particular moment and remember it later one. When you would eventually meet up, you shall add the menu in the conversation : “I met her last spring, had dinner and she cooked this wonderful lasagna. I still can taste it !”.  

So, yes, basically, I do cook and I am not that bad at all. I learnt from four major persons in my family and I just can’t thank them enough for what they brought to me. Cooking is quite sensual too.

As I am French, I can say that French are obsessive whenever it comes to food and cooking. We (yes, we) all think we are the best in the world. French cooking is well-known to be one of the most interesting and tasty food in the world. But we don’t cook the same way ! French are within their country opponent to someone else’s cooking. Regionalism is probably the main point to observe.

For instance, you can have as many recipes of “Blanquette de veau” (veal stew) than you have of region in France and family ! In my own family, I have four different way of cooking it ! I have the basic of my grandmother, the touch of my father and a bit of my grandfather… not mention my own taste and recipe added !

In France, food and cooking are not topics to discuss. It is very serious and everyone has its own manner and way of thinking about it. Any TV show upon cooking is popular and the comments afterward are hysterical. At the moment, “Topchef”, a famous broadcast TV, concentrates the good and the bad of cooking. Those professional (but one, already eliminated from the show, despite the noticeable talent !) daze me each time I’ve been watching at the show. I do know they’ve been taking classes and learnt how to technically do, although it is still astounding to see how easy it seems to be. Despite the stress of the competition, they look like so easy and have brilliant ideas about stupid vegetables such as parsnip or broccoli ! I feel like a total idiot however I like watching at it !

As far as I’m concerned and apart from French cooking I am fond of Hungarian, Russian & northern Italian cooking. I like also the simplicity of British and Irish foods. One of my favorites restaurants in London (No way, I won’t tell you all my addresses !) is Bumpkin, South Kensington.  It’s all British products and the cooking is divinely tasty. The atmosphere is brilliant and the Chef, outstanding !

Another restaurant I like is in Auvillar, Tarn, France, called “Le Petit Palais”. I went there a couple of times and it was delicious any time. The cooking is simple and quite familial, not expensive and the owner is delicate toward clients.

I post some recipes from my grandmother notebook. Just enjoy doing them and any feedback would be appreciated !