Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh for wistful dreaming and french cooking

I have a confession to make. I'm not faithful to baking. I have been known to become smitten by the  heady spicy aromas of an Indian curry and prance at the prospect of roasting a chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Don't get me wrong the sugar high of making a beautiful cake is a splendid feeling indeed however the magnificent sense of accomplishment of serving said cake at the end of a successful diner party gives me a reason to live (ok so that might be a bit dramatic but you get the idea).
As a dear friend so tactfully once put it : my name is Ms Cupcake and I'm a catering whore.

My dinner parties are usually based on my latest obsession that I, being an impressionable lass, have picked up from a book, TV show or movie I have recently enjoyed . I once devoted a month of my life to learning to cook the perfect turkey because I had watched a movie about some thanksgiving dinner (brining the resplendent beast for at least 2 days is the secret!). More often than not the theme of my cooking is French cuisine. I have a romantic ideal of all things French installed by the extravagant impracticality of it being the only non English language taught in my school. I care little of modern day France with it's strident unionism and badly behaved President. 

I long for the elegance and warmth of the France presented to me in my year 9 textbooks. In those books supermarkets didn't exist. Every item of ones groceries were bought at separate and fantastical shops like une boulangerie, un patisserie and une épicerie. You would go to these shops and politely request each item individually then at the end of the transaction you would ask how much it was and please could they point you in the direction of the train station. I'm sure you can imagine just how shattered I was when my polite school girl French was mercilessly laughed at when said transaction was attempted on my first visit to Paris. Nevertheless unswayed by my experience ( I put it down to the crappy modern France and continued my lust for France c.1920) I continue my devotion to all things French, cuisine included.  Which brings me to July, perhaps my favorite month of the year. In July each year a glorious thing takes place: Le Tour de France. For 21 days Lycra clad gods of the bicycle tough it out through the breath taking French countryside. My cycle obsession aside we, the viewers, are treated quite the eye opening tour of the each region of the country and with this comes the food. It makes perfect sense therefore that each July I hold a Tour de France opening dinner party that pays homage to this great cuisine and its national sport.

So I find myself at that happy time of the year when my mind  wanders to thinking about the menu. Classic or modern?  Provençal, Bistro of Michelin hat? Oh happy, delicious thoughts. Whats more my obsession requires practice and so the weeks leading up to the event are filled with experiments, disasters and about 100 menu changes. So I thought...if you don't mind, that I would steer away from a devotion to cakes for a little while and take you along with me on my French musings... bon apetit!