Thursday, September 24, 2015

Social vs. Practical

In A French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis   Gotham Books   303 pages   $26.95

Loomis lives in Louviers, a small town in Bretagne where she has apparently co-opted every woman of cooking age as a friend.  The book is a compilation of cooking tips and recipes of "the typical Frenchwoman."  It should be mentioned that in this book, the women personally cook at least one and often two four course meals per day.

It should also be mentioned that a four or five course dinner always includes these two items - a salad course followed by the cheese course and for a five course meal, add dessert.

Loomis and I were bopping along in sync until I read her recipe for something called Tartiflette and hissed in disapproval.  It's the family-style version of raclette, made quick and easy.

The raclette I know and serve is the social version with a raclette grill that melts the cheese from the heat under the grill above which is used for pepperoni or deli ham or turkey or Canadian bacon and it is accompanied by a bowl of boiled potatoes (use herbs in the cooking water for more flavor) cornichons and a baguette chunk or three.  Everyone is issued a small black skillet for the cheese and cooks to their own rhythm.  It's a lot of fun and makes for a great dinner party - leisurely with plenty of time for lively conversation.

Loomis takes away all of the fun - she boils the potatoes, puts them in a casserole dish, covers them with cheese and puts the whole thing in the oven until the cheese melts.  This travesty is served with the accoutrements above.

After some 24 hours of cogitation, I conceded that her way is better for serving your family quickly and easily -- but dammit, my way is more fun.

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