Being married to a Frenchman has been the best cultural education of my life. Never am I free to make an assumption….about anything…but especially food.
Before living with a French I used to think that French food was fancy and complicated - full of rich sauces and special, hard-to-find ingredients. But Jean-Philippe has taught me that most French food is utterly simple in its ingredient list and the key is WHEN each ingredient goes into the dish AND the amount of passion that goes into making the food itself.
They (the French) seem picky about food but when we eat his mom’s recipes they are always fresh, simple and delicious. Easy to prepare (after you have done it once) and most things are just a feel for the amount rather than a measured portion. For instance, since meeting JP I have saved hundreds of dollars on prepared salad dressings. We simply always make it at home now – in just the quantity required.
Here’s the simplest recipe for a great dressing for your next salad.
Irene's Real French Dressing
Take equal amounts of a good quality olive oil and a red wine vinegar.
Pour directly into the empty salad bowl. (If it is just the two of us, a tablespoon of each is almost enough.)
Then I take about a ¼ of a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (no other substitute if you are French!). I just dip the spoon into the Dijon jar and take a little on the end of the spoon.
Then I add a little sea salt and crush some black pepper.
Everything gets whisked around in the salad bowl to combine the ingredients, and only when you are ready to toss the salad for eating do you dare mix the salad around and coat the leaves with the dressing. Otherwise, you wilt the leaves. This part is critical to good salad in the French world. The salad has a perfect amount of lovely, tangy, fresh dressing and is still crisp.