Dishing it Up: The Story Behind Twenty Icons of French Food & Drink is by one of my favourite food writers. Paola Westbeek isn’t French, but she is a prolific and skilled writer on the subject.
Food, like perfume, has the power to evoke memories, to comfort and console. Each family will have its favourite recipes and every culture will have dishes that are born of tradition, history and climate. Paola offers recipes, certainly, but also those stories behind some classic French dishes.
Dishing it Up isn’t a huge tome but every culinary narrative is well-chosen and well-executed. This book will be the perfect gift for any lover of classic food. There is Clafoutis here but it’s not the expected cherry-filled dessert. Paola amuses with a story of French friends who condemned her savoury interpretation but stilled enjoyed the dish with French passion. A case of ‘the proof of the pudding…’? Paola’s Clafoutis with cherry tomatoes and sweet onions makes a delightful summer lunch.
No hint of guilt
The recipe for Pork Chops in Mustard Sauce will be a regular dinner chez nous, although, as the author discovered, the famed Dijon mustard no longer comes from Dijon and, in fact, the seeds likely come from Canada. I guess this means that those unfortunates who don’t come from France can make this dish with no hint of guilt.
Pastis is loved by so many French drinkers and my husband. He is part French so that must account for his taste. I am not keen on this unique spirit, although the history is charming and Paola puts Pernod, its most celebrated brand, into historic context.
Dishing it Up: The Story Behind Twenty Icons of French Food & Drink is a gastronomic education. It will likely encourage many a new look at old favourites, and will tempt many a food lover back into the kitchen, whether French or not.
Dishing it Up: The Story Behind Twenty Icons of French Food & Drink
Author: Paola Westbeek
Publisher: Independently published