The Things They Carried*: Brief Glimpses of French Food in Vietnam

In the film, “Indochine,” you sense the rampant orientalism that made Edward Said one of the most quoted scholars on the subject of colonialism and the creation of the “Other.” The heat, the fans, the sweat, the passions, the exoticism and erotocism, all these visual cues recreate the mental picture many of us have regarding … More The Things They Carried*: Brief Glimpses of French Food in Vietnam

And a Cake Fit for Three Kings: Galette/Gateau des Rois

Bonne Année! Happy New Year! I  first ate Galette des Rois in Paris, on a cold, rainy January day. The smell of the almond-paste filling seemed to reach right out through the door of the nameless little patisserie near the Rue Monge and grab me by the lapels of my  too-thin coat. I couldn’t wait to … More And a Cake Fit for Three Kings: Galette/Gateau des Rois

Oreillettes, A Part of Provence’s Thirteen Desserts

Fried dough, a universal love. Grease, sugar, what more could you dream of? In the south of France,  when you want fried dough, you’ll get oreillettes. As with any traditional holiday dish, each cook has his or her version. The signature taste with these oreillettes is the orange flower water. In New Orleans, oreillettes come … More Oreillettes, A Part of Provence’s Thirteen Desserts

The Provençal Thirteen: Fennel- and Cumin-Scented Sablés

In France, you’ll find sablés,  buttery cookies that originated in Normandy. (You know they had all that butter to get rid of there.) Most sablés are sweet. But in Provence, for the famous Thirteen Desserts of Christmas Eve, cooks prefer savory little disks perfumed with fennel and cumin. Cumin? How did cumin get into mix? … More The Provençal Thirteen: Fennel- and Cumin-Scented Sablés

Nougat Noir, or Black Nougat, Another of the Thirteen Desserts

A Provençal gros souper (Christmas Eve dinner) would not be correct without some nougat noir to challenge the skill of your dentist and possibly lay waste to your dental work. In other words, nougat noir can be a bête [bite!] noire*, if you’re not careful. For nougat noir is a hard candy, not the pillowy stuff … More Nougat Noir, or Black Nougat, Another of the Thirteen Desserts

Les Quatre Mendiants au Chocolat, A Candy Offshoot of Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts

Gorgeous, huh? Yummy? You bet! And the best part is that, with a quick flick of a switch and your wrist, you too can make these beauties, part of the Thirteen Desserts of a Provençal Christmas. Mendiants au Chocolat Noir ou Blanc Makes about 75 – 100 candies, depending on size of circles 1 pound … More Les Quatre Mendiants au Chocolat, A Candy Offshoot of Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts

Begging the Question: Les Quatre Mendiants and Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts

The truth is, the dishes associated with Provence’s Thirteen Desserts abound with religious symbolism. Take the Four Beggars, or Les Quatre Mendiants, which symbolize something that we in the secular West have basically lost, a sense of awe and fear about the natural world and all that is in it. The Thirteen Desserts likely represented … More Begging the Question: Les Quatre Mendiants and Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts