Are You a Francophile?

Fran·co·phile (ˈfraNGkəˌfīl/) noun - a person who is fond of or greatly admires France or the French.

This weekend I read an article in the New York Times about how in Harlem New York there is a new French renaissance exploding with French restaurants, along with many French expats making Harlem their home. In fact, while I was writing this I received my daily email from Food & Wine magazine, and it just happened to be solely about French hors d'oeuvres, French main courses, French "fast food," and French desserts. 

So what is this obsession we have with the French? I think the romantic side of France has always been with us since the prolific writing days of authors Hemingway and Fitzgerald. 

We are now bringing it into our homes "French-style artisanal" breads and croissants, besides pastry sweets from eclairs to macarons. These delicious items are from local markets selling their own version of French-style baked goods. We perk up when a plate of imported French cheeses, from Brie to Raclette, is brought to our attention. 

Fleur de sel, Herbs de Provence, and Le Creuset cookware is a big part of our kitchen. Boeuf bourguignon, Coq au Vin, pommes frites, and the simple Croque Monsieur (aka grilled ham and cheese) is no longer a mystery to cook - or to eat. Cook and lover of all things French, Julia Child kept telling us how easy it was to cook like the French, and thirty years later we are just now believing her. 

Many large wine regions in America are celebrating grapes with origins from France. The French-style of wine making is often shown in many local wines from California, Washington, and Oregon. I will not hide my love of pretty pink wines from Provence, and in an effort to support my local wine industry, I seek out American produced rosés that resemble the style from southern France.  They have taken over my wine collection. 

Deep "French" roast coffee beans that produce French-style café au lait, and mochas are often made with a French Press - - make that a Le Creuset French Press. 

A few years back we became enamored with home decor that featured pillows and baubles adorned with the Eiffel Tower. "Shabby Chic," a style reminiscent of old French furniture, linens, and decor that was worn and weathered, is now purposely and willfully produced.

And who doesn't get all starry-eyed over the thought of old buildings with the shutters and doors the color of the nearby lavender fields?

Nothing better on a Sunday than to cozy up to a French-themed movie: Midnight in Paris, Chocolat, Amelie, A Good Year, The Sisters of Belleville, GiGi, and Julie and Julia. And speaking of Sundays... 

The difference between our American habits and the French, is that the French take the time to have coffee or a glass of wine in the middle of the day while we are still working to make the corporate boss happy so he can afford a plane ticket to France. In France they actually enjoy their Sundays off from work - or so I keep reading. 

So where am I going with this? Why the Francophiles? I believe it is a quest to a much simpler time in life and enjoying the simple, but finer things. Finer things do not have to be expensive. When we look at the French life-style, it is not as grand as we prop it up to be. Boeuf bourguignon may sound "fancy," but after all it is a simple aromatic beef stew. It is not canned beef stew, but a stew that is slowly and methodically made with fresh ingredients. 

Let's just not copy the French in their cooking and decor, but let's learn from the French and not super-size our drinks and dine on fast food. Let's take the time to stop and "drink" the rosés. This rant is just as much of a reminder for me, as it is for you. I am slowly learning... 

With apologies to Omar Khayyam, "A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou beside me singing in the wilderness... "  

Make that a jug of French wine, and a loaf of French bread... 


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