The Delights of French Food

‘It is a French recipe of my grandmother’s,’ said Mrs Ramsay, speaking with a ring of great pleasure in her voice. Of course it was French. What passes for cookery in England is an abomination (they agreed). (Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse)

Without a doubt I owe France a huge culinary debt. When I recall my cross-Channel excursions, my memories are more often than not food-related: crispy baguettes, pungent cheeses, flaky buttery croissants, rich earthy cassoulets, gently quivering tarte au citron… I could go on and on.

Not only has the eating of French food caused me great pleasure, but so too has the making of it. I’ve had a great time learning to make baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat and hollandaise sauce at La Cuisine Paris, a cookery school in the heart of Paris by the river and around the corner from the Hotel de Ville – I really need to pay them another visit!   Continue reading “The Delights of French Food”

The Anxious Cook

Next morning they would go over the dishes – the soup, the salmon; the salmon, Mrs Walker knew, as usual underdone, for she always got nervous about the pudding and left it to Jenny; so it happened, the salmon was always underdone.                                                                             (Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway)

However much I love cooking – or perhaps because I love it so much – I often get anxious when cooking, particularly when cooking for others. Will there be enough food? Will my guests like it? Will it be perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned? Will I impress as a cook?  Continue reading “The Anxious Cook”