Tuesday, May 26, 2009
My (Dis)Comfort With Some French Food
When the plates, laden with shiny silver fish, landed on our table I did a double take: the fish heads were still intact and their bulging eyeballs were staring right at me. Our daughter, aged three at the time, reached over and stuck one of her des frites (french fries) into the wide-open toothy mouth of one. (Apparently, trying to feed it).
At the time, we were sitting at some fancy restaurant in Normandy, France.
OMiGosh. Ewwww! I recall thinking when Philippe and his parents nonchalantly picked up their knives and forks and dug right in.
I probably had ordered something more typical of French cuisine, like a Croque Monsieur.
My husband and his family are French. And, I must admit, before I met him my only exposure to French cuisine was Chicken Cordon Blue, Potatoes Au Gratin and croissants. Naively, I assumed typical French food consisted mostly of custard-y things like Quiche and entrees slathered in rich creamy sauces with tons of éclairs and croissants for dessert. Wasn't prepared for all the seafood.
Which Philippe and his family just love. Shellfish--mussels, sardines, anchovies, squid and octopus, they eat it all. They also love Foie Gras, pate and all kinds of sausages.
Not me. Never been a fan of seafood, squishy-raw things or meat that comes in any type of paste.
There is a passage or two in Kate Jacob's novel, Comfort Food, which delves into the clashes between different cultures over certain cuisines. I found myself laughing when I came to the part in the novel where Gus, the protagonist, receives a shock. Her nemesis, Carmen, surprises--and disgusts--her by presenting her with an octopus during their first cooking show together.
I could relate.
This discomfort, or revulsion of certain foods got me thinking. I'm trying NOT to voice my disgust in front of my children. I'm trying to encourage them to be more adventurous eaters (unlike, um, their mother).
I've come along way since meeting my husband. I've actually tried Escargot a few times, not bad, at least the sauce is good I remember thinking. And I've even tried mussels and Foie Gras. Now, can't say I would make these a regular part of my diet, but hey, at least I've tried them. I'm hoping to be more opened-minded!
A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Monterey. My husband ordered, guess what? Octopus. Our youngest, Samuel, dug right in. I think he actually enjoyed it. Marisa wanted nothing to do with it though.
I wonder if she remembers the fish heads when she was younger.