…As does this weather, which is excellent news for restaurants and cafes. In general, the French are outdoor people who love to be tan, and they will, in moments, be sitting at tables, faces upturned, café expres on the table. Later on it will be lunch – so much goat cheese! So many grilled steaks! – then even later, Spritzes which have taken over the world. They are so bright you can’t even see the elegant glasses of rose alongside, nor the flutes of champagne. Everyone is celebrating freedom, and that is good for the economy.
France Culture and “Meessing Aout”
I listen to France Culture radio every morning and I find it the most elegant radio station, with a blend of smart news, intellectual discourse, and musings on everything from Proust to Jean de la Fontaine. Each morning there is a psychologist/therapist on the news too, and her insights are fascinating. This morning she spoke of “missing out” (pronounced meessing aout in her accent), a phenomenon that is plaguing the French populace. It consists of this: now that we aren’t confined and people are assembling, loud and lively, for dinners and parties, the uninvited are feeling left out. As are those “condemned” to télé-travail, working at home, or the many who changed jobs during confinement, leaving their colleagues behind to find – or not – new ones.
So many social phenomena due to this one virus…it is fascinating, isn’t it? And it must be same in every country, as we race back to the new normal. Any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear them.
When it comes to cooking, all are finding their footing. My butcher was so down in the dumps the other day because he had no clients. “Everyone is sick of cooking,” he said, head resting on his fist. “At the beginning of the confinement it was trendy to bake your own bread and cook everything, now people are just fed up.” I’m not worried about him. It’s only a matter of time until everyone pulls out their grill or plancha and gets to work; he’ll be sooo busy then!
Cool, Cool, Cool
Like everyone, I’m focusing on cool dishes that need little cooking like cucumber granite to set atop tabouleh, the first tomatoes in a yummy little dice with sherry wine vinegar, shallots, and ribbons of basil and mint to set atop a steamed fillet of fish, a crisp salad of thin-sliced fennel with plenty of garlic and anchovies to complement a cheese tray and some wonderful bread. Not that I’m forgetting friends in the southern hemisphere who shiver as they crack open a solidly beautiful Cabernet for their boeuf bourguignon. To satisfy all seasonal needs, may I point you to both French Grill and Plat du Jour, the books. They’re available at any brick-and-mortar bookstore, and online as well.
Stay Warm, Stay Cool
For now, stay warm or cool wherever you are, enjoy, and remember the fun we’re having at Cooking Live with Susan! Come join us!
Tabouleh with Spring Vegetables
- 1 cup Couscous
- 3/4 cup;180ml water
- 1/3 cup; 75ml olive oil divided
- 6 ounces180g shucked peas
- 6 ounces;180g feta, cut in ¼-inch pieces
- 1 bunch radishes trimmed, well-rinsed, then cut in quarters, lengthwise
- 3 new onions trimmed, cut in half then thinly sliced
- The zest from 2 lemons minced
- ½ to ½ cup;75ml to 125ml fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup;10g mint leaves
- ½ cup;5g cilantro leaves
- 1 cup;10g basil leaves
- 1 large clove garlic green germ removed
- Bring the water and the salt to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the couscous in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the water over the couscous, mix, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Fill two bowls with ice water.
- While the couscous is sitting, bring a medium saucepan 2/3 filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and when the water has returned to the boil add the peas. When the water returns to the boil again, transfer the peas to one of the bowls filled with ice water. Return the salted water to a boil and add the fava beans. When the water returns to the boil, cook the favas until they are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the favas to the other bowl of iced water. When the peas and favas are cooled, drain.
- Place the feta in a large serving bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil over it.
- When the couscous has plumped, pour over the 1/3 cup (75ml) of the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. Set aside.
- When the couscous is completely cooled, stir in the peas, the onions, and the radishes, gently, until everything is combined.
- Mince the herbs with the garlic and stir into the couscous. Taste for seasoning and add additional lemon juice if necessary. Set aside for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Just before serving, adjust the seasoning and serve.