Lunch in Paris

It’s simple: Women who pick at their food hate sex. Women who suck the meat off of lobster claws, order (and finish) dessert – these are the women who are going to rip your clothes off and come back for seconds. I have a friend in the Sates who never considered herself a very good flirt, but I never worried for her, because she is a fabulous cook and an adventurous eater. I never doubted that when the right guy came along, she would devour him like a hot fudge sundae, and I was right. (Elizabeth Bard)

I am waiting to evaluate the validity of that statement, though it is certainly food for thought. I just finished reading Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris, a light and highly entertaining memoir of learning to live, love and eat French. This book joins The Sweet Life in Paris and My Life in France, along with a plethora of other books, in a growing genre of literature dedicated to documenting food memories and the emotions they evoke and are associated with. This Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon is fascinating – did people always have life changing revelations mid-bite? What is it about food that catalyzes these realizations? Or is it the fact that these authors are traveling abroad, and the foreign place itself sets in motion the wheels of self discovery? My friend Andrea studied abroad in Spain, land of the Sagrada Família and David Villa. She returned with a wonderful love story of having fallen head over heels for one Fernando. Several years later, they are still continuing their romantic trans-Atlantic love affair, seamlessly transcending time zones, cultural clashes and language barriers. Don’t you envy that?

Pacman


Tortilla Española con Sofrito
Spanish Omelettes with Sofrito
Andrea introduced me to this Spanish staple. It is a very common tapa dish, essentially an egg omelet of fried potato and onions. The omelet’s exterior is browned to a crisp, crunchy shell, that once broken reveals layers of cooked potato and onion. It can be served as is, but I made an easy Sofrito, or tomato based sauce, to pair with the omelet. There is a great picture tutorial of how to make a Spanish omelet, so you might want to check it out before making this dish. The recipe below serves 2.

Sofrito
Ingredients
1-2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
splash of EVOO
1 tsp sweet paprika
salt, pepper & sugar to taste

Directions
Heat a small sauce pan on medium and add EVOO. Add onions and garlic and cook until sweet and translucent. Add chopped tomatoes, and cook until soft, allowing to simmer, bubble and thicken. Season with paprika, salt, pepper and sugar. While still simmering and thickening, use an immersion blender to break down the large solids, yet leaving some texture. Remove from heat and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Tortilla Española
Ingredients
2-3 Yukon potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 large eggs
1 c olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
In a small frying pan, heat 1 cup olive oil on medium high heat. Once hot enough (sizzles when you add a drop of water), turn heat down to medium-low, and add the sliced potatoes. Your potatoes are ideally of even thickness so they cook evenly. Essentially, you are boiling the potatoes in hot oil, and want minimal browning. The potatoes are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels and cool a little. Remove all but 2 tbs of olive oil from frying pan, and turn heat down to low.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, onions, salt and pepper. Once the potatoes have cooled off enough to handle (but still warm), toss in egg mixture and use a spatula to distribute evenly, making sure egg coats all potato slices. It is OK to break up the potato slices.

Frying

On medium-low heat, return potato/egg mixture to pan, spreading over pan evenly. Fry until bottom edge is crisp (5-8 minutes). With the help of a plate, invert the still runny omelet onto a plate and slide the uncooked omelet face down back to the pan. This will allow even browning of top and bottom of the omelet. Once the bottom is crisp, slide onto napkins and drain oil. I even pat the top with paper towels to remove the excess oil. Transfer to plate, cut into wedges. Garnish with sofrito and enjoy!

Slice

After reading all this literature on food and love and life, don’t you feel like conquering the world one dish, one plate at a time? Don’t you want to accidentally and coincidentally run into the love of your life while abroad in the canals of Venice, or surrounded by the Ottoman domes in Beirut, or perhaps lost in the rice fields of Vietnam? Well, for the rest of us who are home-bound, who says we can’t explore the wealth of other nations in our very own kitchen? All you need is an open mind, an adventurous attitude, and a willing palate, ready to be sated.

Mentally I am in Seville,
anhD.

ps. for those who are going to Spain for Worth Youth Day in 2011, you must try this!

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