Good Reasons to Rethink Dining In -in Paris, or Elsewhere


Chris says that the next apartment we find will have the kitchen and the office in the same space. Blogging and cooking cannot be done simultaneously – trust me on this!
Probably all over the world at this very moment millions of what could have been very adequate home-cooked meals have gone up in smoke – this baby never had a chance.

One thing I’ve learned having lived part time in France for a number of years is that one can and should learn to ‘ration’ food at home – in the sense that you never buy more than you need. And then there is the freezer – which is our sort of limbo for lost food souls.

Normally, before we leave on an extended trip (as we’ll be doing in a two weeks), I take a good hard look at the freezer (which I try to ignore for most of the year).
“So, how do you feel about some poisson pane for dinner?” I ask.
or how do you feel about fishcakes?
Fishcakes?
Where did THEY come from?
I don’t remember, really.
Fishcakes.
About an hour before preparing dinner, I open up an Italian chianti. The peas and carrots are placed in water to boil. They all cook up far faster because I’m on the computer . . . I dash from the office, through the living room where Christopher is reading a book . . . you didn’t smell anything burning? Yes, something is definitely burning.

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Round Two: Dinner.
Do you have any lemon juice for the fishcakes?
Yes of course.
We slather the fishcakes with lemon juice. I throw on some thick Caesar salad dressing for good measure (they look somewhat dried out, but they don’t smell at all fishy).
Then we bite into them.
They are not fishcakes. We don’t know exactly what they are – except that they’ve been in the freezer for a while.
Did you bring these over from your Mother’s freezer?
I don’t know.
I think it’s a dessert.
Yeah, it tastes kind of like an oversized fig newton.
It would have been better without the lemon juice and the Caesar salad dressing.
It would have been better if we had gone out for dinner.

BTW: There is no moral to this story. Except perhaps if you have guests over for dinner, do not offer them fish cakes.

On the other hand, here is a little tip for those of you English-speaking cooks in France who are looking for the fixings for a home-cooked fishcake:
Breadcrumbs. This is THE most difficult item to find in any French supermarket for the simple reason that most French people in their right mind wouldn’t bother with it.
Breadcrumbs translates into ‘chapelure’. Now that you know the word, GOOD LUCKY FINDING IT! Items such as premolded fishcakes are called pane i.e. breaded. You can also ask sometimes for breadcrumbs at your local bakery.
Here’s another item you may have trouble finding or translating:
Horseradish. Which translates as ‘raifort’. Horseradish is not a tremendously popular item in France – Personally, I find a strong Dijon mustard and ‘raifort’ to be similar in the sinus clearing properties. I like both products for different uses. But horseradish may never be a big hit in France.
Dill, on the other hand is easy to find, but the translation will not stick easily in your memory banks. Dill translates as ‘aneth’.
Most spices do not translate with any rhyme or reason – so you’ll just have to learn as you go – and the ones you use more often will stay with you.
Cloves – girofle
Cinnamon- cannelle
Nutmeg – muscade
That’s just to get you going in the right direction – no hurry, and book a reservation at t nice restaurant!