My Parisian Restaurant Map

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On Duck Fat

On a recent trip to one of my favorite bistros (Le Tambour on rue Montmartre), I finally asked the waiter slash owner how the chef was making his incredibly crunchy, crispy, garlicky, fatty, oozy roasted potatoes. And after a few coy smiles and a couple flips of my hair he finally spilled the beans; and that's how I found myself in the supermarket, lovingly staring at a jar of something that was about to become my new best friend.
Duck Fat. Graisse de canard. Heaven in a jar.
Honestly, I was a little concerned in the beginning. Duck fat sounded so....fattening and gluttonous. So much more fattening than my innocent friend olive oil and somewhat less innocent friend butter. So I started to do a bit of research and realized that not only is it a healthier alternative to both olive oil and butter, but its also full of omega 3's and 6's, and it's less fattening. Oh and did I mention that it's delicious? I'm sure that much youve gotten by now.
I'm thinking that duck fat may just be the key to the French paradox. Maybe it's the reason that the French can get away with eating so much fat, and yet live the longest than all of the Mediterraneans. The fat they're eating is actually healthy, and it doesn't seem to have any effect whatsoever on the stunning size 0 waistlines of all the picture perfect parisian femme fatales. (Trust me, they're everywhere)
I would highly recommend that you start using duck fat immediately, any and every time that you are cooking potatoes. If you're roasting them or frying them or anything of the sort, use duck fat instead of oil or butter. The smells that will come wafting out of your kitchen will make everyone that passes your house think “Mmmmm...I wonder what they're cooking!”.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame...

Ok, so it wasn't exactly a ballgame. It was a rugby game.

But what struck me about it was the snack of choice of Parisian fans. I knew to anticipate some good junk food...for where there is beer, and balls, there is food. But I expected a boiled hotdog on a hotdog bun the consistency of a twinky.What I got is the perfect symbol of the differences between French and American cuisine and food. 

In Paris, they don't eat hotgogs at ballgames. No. They eat fresh baguettes stuffed with french fries (probably fried in duck fat) stuffed full of spicy Merguez sausages. In principle, it's the same concept as a hotdog. But it's the details that make all the difference. Spicy, blood red sausages seasoned with a sprinkle of provencal herbs, grilled until they burst, shoved into a fresh baguette, to help you wash down your beer at half time. 

It's times like these that make me truly appreciate French cuisine. It's not all about the fancy sauces or the odd smelling offals. Real, everyday French cooking is about taking simple comfort food and taking it to the next level. Only they don't know they're at the next level, because frankly, you will never see a hotdog served anywhere. This is where I find the real Paris, the real sophistication of the French lifestyle, without a 150 euro bill at the end.