Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures with Clotilde

I recently discovered Clotilde Dusoulier, a 30-year old Frenchwoman who is a food blogger, cookbook author and travel writer, all written in perfect, humorous English.

Chocolate & Zucchini is well-known to people who follow food. It is clever, useful and well-written. One of my favorite features is her series (with excellent explanations and examples) of "edible" French idioms, such as "être tout sucre tout miel," "mettre la main dans la pâte," and "pédaler dans la semoule," to name just a few.
Clotilde's cookbook (Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen) is a charming compendium of classic French dishes, with good background information, lively (if somewhat cutesy) anecdotes and variations to help Americans deal with the absence of certain classic French ingredients. I have made several of her very clearly expressed recipes with success. An example:

There are many things for which I am grateful to my mother. The gift of life ranks quite high -- a precious thing, that -- but her basic tart crust recipe is a close second. The recipe does not involve the usual daunting steps of rolling out a stubborn dough and transferring it awkwardly into the pan; instead, my mother's method has you combining all the ingredients into a sandy mixture that ou simply dump in the pan and pack with your fingers to form a crust, like you would for a cheesecake.

My only complaint is her use of volumetric, rather than weight, measures, particularly in the recipes for baked desserts, but that is unfortunately still the norm in the US.

Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris is a food guide to Paris, the best since Patricia Wells' excellent A Food Lover's Guide to Paris, which was last updated in 2004. Her restaurant recommendations are very thoughtful and personal; while she includes many of the well-known palaces and bistros, she also includes less-known places that you might not find on your own. The book is also a useful guide to food and food-related markets and stores, and contains a lot of interesting Paris lore. The book contains 12 interesting recipes, this time with metric weight equivalents.

I think we'll be hearing a lot more from Clotilde.

Bobby Jay

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