Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Watercress Soup


Watercress Soup
David, 02 Feb 

One of the differences between French and American dining is that the green salad is normally served after the meal, either with cheese or on its own. I remember Romain being very surprised when I told him that Americans usually ate cheese before a meal, with the apéritif. “Ah bon?” he replied, having a moment believing that we did that. (And this is from the only French person that insists on having his coffee with dessert, which is unusual in France as well.)
Watercress soup There are some exceptions; gut-busters like Hachis Parmentier (meat pie with mashed potato topping), and Brandade (salt cod puree), are often served with a salade verte, a few leaves of lettuce in a mustardy dressing. But most of the time, the salad arrives after the plat principal. (Curiously, we call the main course the entrée in America, whereas in France, the entrée is the first course – or the “entry” into the meal.) The after-dinner salad in France isn’t usually a complicated affair with tomatoes, eggs, croutons, and all other sorts of other things tossed in with it: it’s often a nice bowl of leafy greens with a punchy dressing.
Watercress soup A friend who used to live in Paris was visiting last week and I invited her to dinner. I always like to serve guests who don’t live here certain French cheeses, like Brie de Meaux or a raw milk Saint-Nectaire, which are hard to get outside of France, and I know they miss them when they are not here. I know when I go away, the first thing I do when I get back is to go to a bakery, buy a fresh, crunchy baguette, slice it wide open, smear it with lots of salted butter from Brittany, and eat that. And then, I dive into the cheeses…
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