Goût de France (Taste of France) is a series of recipe remakes inspired by my first time traveling to Provence and Paris—a lifelong dream. The recipes are all tried and tested by Mom. But first, let me explain how I became interested in France. . .
Most of us know the famous quote credited to Julia Child: “Every woman should have a blowtorch.” But my mother always taught me: “Every cook needs a good food processor.” and I agree. It’s my favorite tool in the kitchen. Well, that and my Vitamix.
My mother learned to cook by watching Julia Child on The French Chef and reading Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I couldn’t tell you what our coffee tables looked like, because they were always covered with stacks and stacks of cooking magazines. Mom’s clutter drove everyone crazy, but when she served up her ocean fresh Oysters Rockefeller, savory stuffed crêpes, or on special occasions—Caviar Pie, we let it slide.
Food Shopping in China Town
One of my favorite things to do as a young girl was go to China Town in Boston with Mom. She liked to shop there for special ingredients. I’ll never forget looking through the butcher’s window for the first time and seeing rows of duck and pigs feet hanging from the ceiling. “C’mon,” Mom had said to me as she walked into the shop. “I want some pork buns.” Of course we didn’t leave without a couple of feet either. Mom was always up for trying different foods, and we kids and Dad never stuck our nose up at anything. The more unusual, the better.
After a lot of begging and coercing from me, we’d usually hit Bloomies on the way home— another favorite thing to do as a kid. Mom always said that I looked possessed whenever I entered that store. I was obsessed with Bloomingdales’ upbeat style and tried on everything I could get my hands on. It didn’t matter if it was my size or not. If I liked it, I wanted it. But I’d be in the dressing room so long; Mom would think I’d been kidnapped. On one or more occasions she had to notify customer service to find me. I had a bad habit of wandering off to get more clothes to try on. This usually meant an embarrassing announcement on the overhead speaker.
Fashion and Costume Design
My passion for fashion later developed into designing my own clothing. I’d have an idea for an outfit but was never able to find anything comparable in stores. That’s when Mom taught me to sew and helped me alter patterns to fit my unique, sometimes bizarre, designs. I eventually attended Fashion Design School where my dream of visiting Paris and Milan grew stronger –a dream which started as a young girl, ravaging the racks at Bloomingdales and eating duck feet for dinner.
After thirty years of dreaming about France and longing to experience the food and fashion they’re known for, I recently had the opportunity to visit last spring 2012. My post How I Scored a Free Dinner and Castle in France explains how it all happened.
So thanks, Mom, for teaching me to appreciate fine cuisine, enduring the dressing room dramas, and never stifling my creativity—no matter how embarrassing or bizarre. It was the trips into China Town and Bloomies, sewing classes, and watching you toil away in the kitchen that sparked the first flames, making me the artist I am today.
The first inspired recipe I’ll be
sharing is my Duck Wontons with
Orange Lime Marmalade. It’s a wink
and nudge to China Town
with a sophisticated French flair.
This one’s for you, Mom!