I’ve been enjoying a glass of wine with some good bread and Comté cheese whilst reflecting on the approach of my birthday which signifies the passing of yet another year and confirms me in the knowledge that I am more content in my own skin. My hopes and aspirations are more modest and the path ahead seems clearer. The similarity between Omar and I are remarkable with our taste for jugs of wine and bread whilst relaxing, but I could do without the singing in the wilderness. I was in part reflecting on the madness of the renowned blogger who was Julie in “Julie and Julia”. The point of the film evaded me as it beggars belief to think that anyone could undertake the daily penance of slowly but surely recreating every complicated dish from the many wordy volumes that make up Julia Child’s “Mastering the art of French Cooking”, any one of which could severely reduce my interest in good food and cooking. Meryl Streep’s characterisation was encouraging in that she fleshed out a jolly, enthusiastic expatriated lady who seemed to be happiest with a warm cock in one hand and a glass of wine in the other whereas the reality was less exciting. My love of food and cooking is based on pleasure and excitement whereas Ms Childs passion appeared be based on detail and exactitude. Whilst in the midst of these ruminations a good thing happened in the guise of an early birthday present from, Jenny, my wife. I can reveal that the present was a copy of “Bistro Cooking” by Patricia Wellswho is amongst my favourite food writers. She has a similarity to Julia Child in that she is an expatriate American living and writing in France, but there the similarity ends. Sometime ago I was commissioned, by the now defunct Sonoma Williams “Taste” magazine, to photograph her and her cookery school in Paris. I followed her through little known markets, underground cheese affineurs, magical patisseries and the shops of every sort of exclusive alimentary artisan whilst she imbued her gaggle of young and old students with her knowledge and enthusiasm as they gathered the ingredients for the simple classic dishes that they would later prepare in the kitchen of her apartment that houses her cookery school. Her writing, although fulfilling the purpose of a cookery book with a raft of her own recipes and those of others, is filled with emotive descriptions of the atmosphere of a particular restaurant or the colours and freshness of ingredients that she has seen waiting to be used in the kitchen of another establishment, together with addresses of suppliers and notes on tastes and sights not to be missed. “Bistro Cooking” is filled with the tastes that are synonymous with the legend of French cooking. Here, to whet your appetite, is a recipe for a dish that I have not eaten, but I will have done pretty soon after finishing this post.The dishes rely on terroir and care, but not on a chef’s toque. This is food to eat and enjoy with friends. Régalez!
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