There are a few simple rules that guide my cooking:
1. Eat what won’t kill you/put you into digestive coma.
2. It’s all about the ingredients. Use the freshest possible.
3. Never use any processed foods, chemicals, or high-fructose corn syrup.
4. Don’t be scared to experiment. (Unless you’re cooking for a lover or their parents for the first time. Tried and true might be a safe bet for this occasion!)
Give me a year ago, and I would have claimed to be a Francophile. I can’t quite claim to be that anymore, because that would indicate a certain distance and separation from a culture that I am currently living and cooking in, have spent different periods of my life in, and most certainly adore. I’ve realized, moreover, I am what is referred to here as a “gourmande”, which most simply indicates someone who loves food, who finds an incredible pleasure in experiencing the flavors of different ingredients and their combinations to the point of it being difficult to resist them.
Given that there are many people in France like me who love eating everything delicious they can possibly fit into their stomach, it brings a few inquiries about the French and their dietary habits:
1. How does their food taste so good?
2. How does their food taste so rich?
3. That being said, how are they not all morbidly obese?
Answer? It’s because they follow the above philosophy: it’s all about the ingredients. And savoring said ingredients. And technique.
Our bodies do not know how to process artificial things as well as it knows how to process natural ingredients. Also, certain bodies cannot process certain ingredients and proteins like other bodies can, which is where the world of intolerance and allergies enter in. This strict attention to the quality of their ingredients has created not only the exquisite taste that is French food, but also the phenomenal health and digestive facility of the Francophones.
What’s more is that they truly SAVOR food. If you make something that is flavorful, balanced, and tantalizing, you simply do not want to rush through it. That is why all of my dishes have some complexity to them within the simplicity of the ingredients– they are not meant to be binge eaten, because they have different notes that you want to savor and physically feel mixing together in your mouth.
Know thyself. You know what turns you on with taste and with food and what is absolutely abhorrent to you. If you don’t, experiment! For instance, one of my best friends loves spicy food, due to her fantastic Vietnamese background, and will always add hot sauce to whatever I put on the table. Except for dessert. But she’s not too keen on that anyways. Therefore, when cooking for her, I know to add more things like GINGER and CILANTRO and PEPPER to my dish that will build the heat of the dish.
What’s more, and more important for the intent and purpose of this blog, is to know what affects your body in a negative way; what your body can and cannot tolerate ingredients-wise.
It actually took me a surprisingly long time to figure out that I did, in fact, have an intolerance to gluten. My entire life I had experienced stomach pains and would get bloated after eating even the tiniest meal. My digestive system was incredibly weak, and I knew that if I were to enjoy the meal, my energy and the way my pants would button for a few hours following the meal would suffer. I went to a gastrointestinal doctor, who advised that I probably had a sensitivity to gluten. I did not buy it. Or, at least, I did not want to.
Because for me, an allergy is something that could kill you, something that was like the Brazil Nut that almost took my life when I was 10. Not something that made my face and stomach simply swell. Turns out, allergies come in all different shapes and sizes, and it was only after eliminating gluten (not carbs) that I started to feel exponentially better.
So, moral of the story, keep it simple with your food, and don’t be scared to mix it up when playing in the kitchen within the realms of your digestive and immune system’s comfort zone. Food is nourishment and health, and strongly affects the way that you feel. That’s why it is important to know what your body can and cannot handle, and then have fun with it!
Pop the Bubble,
Viva la Child.