My last week has been very busy with cooking. I’ll be having some friends of French descent over this Friday night as a pre-Bastille Day celebration. There will be 10 of us in total, and I want to make sure that the food is of a standard that my friends have come to expect from me. I usually don’t make meals of the same ethnicity as my guests as I know that they will be comparing what I’ve made to what they grew up with.
One of my pet peeves is the way how Italians crap on about food and their mother’s cooking. So many Italians, I have met seem to think that not only their mothers are the greatest cooks in the world, but also that Italians are the only ones who know how to cook. I am so over the idea of the integrity of ingredients and the simplicity of flavours that I hear so many celebrity chefs on television harp on about. This Eurocentric chauvinism about food seems to deny the validity of complex flavours developed in the east, such as Indian and Thai cuisine. I just won’t have it.
To all you Italian guys out there, who were always going on about your mother’s food, get over it and move out on your own!
This now brings me to the French. Sure enough, some French food is fantastic but to be quite honest, I’m not interested in eating so much offal and saturated fats. I remember being quite shocked when I first looked in the bible of French cuisine “Larousse Gastronomique” at how much butter, cream and guts there was in so much of the so-called traditional French cooking.
I keep on hearing about how the French eat these high saturated fat meals, and that they have a low incidence of heart disease in their country. Some say it’s the red wine that is drunk with the meals that is helping ameliorate the effect of such a high-fat diet. I think the reality is, that years and years of eating high fat food has killed off all the generations of the people who can’t metabolise so much fat and what is left is a country that is populated with people who are genetically engineered to efficiently process fat.
As for me, I have been genetically engineered to efficiently accumulate fat so my body can produce cholesterol and store it for hard times by lining my arteries with it.
Since I am getting together with my friends for, what is essentially a French celebration, I thought I’d put aside some of my fears and prejudices and cook them a French meal.
Whenever I cook a dinner for a large group I always test the menu two or three times beforehand to make sure I don’t have any surprises on the night. Since I wanted to avoid fatty foods I thought I’d cook fish dish of John Dory with shellfish, saffron and merguez broth. Sure enough there was cream in the recipe, but I used about a quarter of what was specified.
The end result wasn’t bad, but I felt that merguez overwhelmed the lightly flavoured fish.
Since trying my hand at the French sea food meal, I was asked by a friend of mine who is a professional chef to help him with the preparation of some Indian dishes that he wants to serve at his wedding in November. So I spent the whole of Saturday with Mark at his place, cooking enough food to totally stuff 20 people.
The idea of the dinner was to trial a variety of foods and then give a questionnaire to our 20 guests to see what they liked and didn’t like.
There will be about 150 guests at this wedding and it looks like Mark has made quite the rod for his back considering that he wants to do all the cooking. I have foolishly offered to help. It looks like it’s going to be one hell of a day.
On Sunday, my wife and I had a really lovely day sitting out in the backyard reading the weekend paper and drinking vodka martinis. Although it’s winter here in Australia, it’s not that cold, and since we light up the chiminea, it’s quite comfortable to sit outside all day.
Because I have discarded the idea of serving fish for my French friends, I’ve latched on to the idea of preparing poulet chasseur (hunter’s chicken). I spent Monday, trying out a combination of recipes, and I think I’ve come up with something that my guests will hopefully like. I’ll post photos and the recipe after the dinner.
Over the weekend I’ve been listening to Bebo & Cigala on their album Lágrimas Negras
This last picture is in response to Pat Coakley’s question, What’s On Your Refrigerator?
The stuffed toy is the amazing, everlasting and very cantankeous “Magic Pudding” character from Norman Lindsay’s children’s book of the same name. The black dancing figure, magnet, is of Kokopelli a South Western American fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player who is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music