Exotic Flavors

Julia Child, The Patron Saint of Living Abroad

 

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. ‘Eh bien, tant pis.’ Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”

-Julia Child. My Life in France

This summer living in France, I discovered Julia Child. I admire the fearless way she took on the daunting challenge of becoming an expert on French cooking. A topic even the French consider immense and profound.  Reading My Life in France I discovered how she passionately took on the French language and culture never being afraid of looking foolish. Finding her passion in the center of it’s culinary world she again made it her own and then meticulously translated this art form for our American understanding. This fearlessness makes her a brilliant bridge builder in my book.

Most of the women I know that take on life in another culture share Julia’s fearlessness. She’s my new patron saint of living abroad. This summer as I mustered my courage from the fringes of the open air markets she was my muse.

I quickly discovered that my limited French was good for something–shopping for food, reading recipes and talking about cooking. When I got lost in the finer details of conversation we could always swap recipes and tips. I’ve discovered in all my travels, learning about local cuisine is a wonderful gateway into the heart of a new culture.

For example, Julia taught me that some of the French passion for cooking and food comes from the deprivation of WWI & WWII. This gave me a new paradigm for looking at recipes that involved mussels, frogs, snails and every part of a duck. This elegant cuisine has some parallels to the poverty food that has become standard in many cultures. Necessity and comfort.

Although I won’t be making braised tongue, aspic or even suckling pig for that matter I did learn the difference between Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauce and can’t wait to try my hand at them.

“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”

-Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Julia Child’s Bearnaise Recipe

Recipe By: Julia Child (1961), Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf
Yield : 1½ cups

Ingredients
¼ cup wine vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions
1 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon or ½ Tbsp dried tarragon
1/8 tsp pepper
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp cold butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp fresh minced tarragon or parsley

Directions
1. Boil the vinegar, wine, shallots, herbs, and seasonings over moderate heat until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons. Let it cool.

2. Then proceed as though making a hollandaise. Beat the egg yolks until thick in a small saucepan. Strain in the vinegar mixture and beat.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter and thicken the egg yolks over low heat. Beat in the other tablespoon of cold butter, then the melted butter by droplets. Correct seasoning, and beat in the tarragon or parsley.

TIP: So that the egg yolks will thicken into a smooth cream, they must be heated slowly and gradually. Too sudden heat will make them granular. Overcooking scrambles them. You may beat them over hot water or over low heat; it makes no difference as long as the process is slow and gentle.

 

But first I need to butter . . .

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    Julia Child, The Patron Saint of Living Abroad

      “Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. ‘Eh bien, ...
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The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

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  • "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -Mark Twain
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  • Not all who wander are lost. . .  in the brilliant words of J.R.R Tolkien. Sometimes we’re at home restlessly wondering, floundering, worrying if we’ll ever wander again? The time in-between adventures can be the most desolate for this mama. I struggle through the hum-drum details of a daily routine.  Auto-pilot is the danger here. I adore my family, friends and home but my nomadic heart can get lost in the daily grind.
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Thankfully, when my heart needs a taste of adventure I can wander as far as my local ethnic market. Thai, Indian, Nigerian, their colors, tools, meats, vegetables and spices can enliven any after school doldrums.  My kids get to wander the aisles and practice cultural sensitivity (Yes, it smells intense but this is the food of their culture, how do you think hot dogs seem to them?) and explore drinks, fruit or sweet treats.
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  • "I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." -Julia Child

Baking is typically too technical for me. I'm a pinch of this and a swirl of that kind of a cook. I love things you make on the stove top but I love trying to make foods from all over the world even more. .
My daughter loves to bake and was thumbing through my new Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. These Palmiers were her idea and I absolutely adore them. It helps that they can be made savory or sweet depending on what you mix into the pastry dough. .
Mastering a few flexible recipes goes very far in my book and I think Julia would agree. Next time we'll add goat cheese and pesto!! .
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  • Our time in France is being featured at Inside A Travelers Walls on @worldtowning blog this morning. Jessica & the family use this space to highlight different forms of global living in the hopes of inspiring your next adventure. If you're curious about a home exchange take a second to check out the link in profile.
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I was infected with an incurable sense of wanderlust, but I was also a homebody. I matured into adulthood when I acknowledged this truth." -Tsh Oxenrider  At Home in the World
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Personally, I've discovered the word home is synonymous with hospitality. I don't have to have a large or fancy space but the minute our family opens our doors in whatever context we're in then I'm truly at home. Sharing our table, home, city is an important part of our daily living and so why would it be different from our adventuring? .
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