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TODAY’S WORD: Le Cordon-Bleu
: A whizz in the kitchen, a master chef
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
When chatting with other couples one of the things I love asking is, "Qui fait la cuisine chez vous?" Who does the cooking at your place? Often they'll reply, "C'est mon mari." It's my husband. He loves to cook! I feel a little wishful when I learn about this delicious arrangement. Quelle chance to have a partner who cooks for you and takes charge in the kitchen. What a treasure!
This summer, after 29 years of marriage, I finally realized I had the very same trésor right here at home, buried beneath a stockpot of resistance. Reasons for not asking my husband to cook include anything from he won’t clean as he goes to he doesn’t believe in expiration dates. And his excuse for keeping (and using?) moldy cheese is: “Consider roquefort!” (How about considering botulism!)
But all that doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t know how to faire la cuisine. He even has a few specialties up the sleeve of his chemise: Spaghetti au Roquefort, les Moules Marinières, le Magret de Canard, and his spectacular Les Bananes Flambées. He has also mastered le braséro (an elevated fire pit that is all the rage in France at the moment) so why not let him loose in the kitchen and finally put up my feet and rest during the lunch rush?
"Do you think you could cook those bell peppers?" I cautiously began, testing the waters. "And add in the crevettes?" Just like that, some three weeks ago, I handed over meal prep to my husband much like I do with our travel plans (with one mutually understood caveat): Jean-Marc would cook, and I wouldn’t complain if I didn't like his choices.
Just as I kept quiet when the rain began trickling into our rented RV (my husband's choice for our recent travel accommodations), I didn't make a peep when he added some freshly-cooked sausage to my 3-day-old potato salad (I was saving it for myself. It wasn't intended for our guests!).
Thankfully, our cordon-bleu-in-training hasn't revived any other leftovers lately: mostly he’s innovating in the kitchen. This week, he took a favorite tomato pie recipe to a new level, by using his own garden fresh tomates grown from seed. Our son said it was the best tomato tart he’d ever tasted. Did you really have to rub it in, Max?
In addition to the freedom and extra time delegating these kitchen duties has given me, it's also offered up some good grub. Just thinking about la bouffe is making me salivate. Are you, too, hungry for some of Jean-Marc’s cheese-based tomato tart? I’m sure he’d be happy to share it with you, but méfions-nous du fromage! He likes aged varieties, whether or not they're meant to mature....
Look at those homegrown tomatoes! Jean-Marc is making a tomato pie or tarte tomate. Recipe here.
Qui fait la cuisine chez vous? = Who does the cooking at your place?
C'est mon mari = it's my husband
quelle chance = what luck
le trésor = treasure
faire la cuisine = to cook
la chemise = shirt
le braséro = fire pit cooker
la crevette = shrimp
le cordon-bleu = master chef, a whizz in the kitchen
la bouffe = grub
méfions-nous = let’s beware
Sincere thanks to the following readers who recently sent in a blog donation or purchased our online memoir. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in publishing it week after week. Merci beaucoup! --Kristi
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Jean-Marc, me, and our son Max, out on the boat. Photo by Ana B.
STORY ARCHIVES: Read about the time Jean-Marc "cooked" the police. Story here.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety