You are on page 1of 3

Abby Grasta

November 20, 2012

Traditional French techniques of cooking are significant in the way in which they have shaped the Western world of food. To neighboring countries in the past, French food was strictly identified with certain characteristics; creamy, rich, and decadent usually being the descriptors. Lately, however, the cuisine of France has grown to be seen for all its facets, representing the slew of regions France has to offer. Patricia Wells has made a major impact in the culinary industry specifically for recognizing the diversity in French cuisine, and focusing on these differences when authoring her books. Regional French cooking has become a rising phenomenon, mostly because it is more attractive to see the variety in a country rather than merely focus on that country as a whole. We can appreciate the regions for their own beauty, cooking techniques, and flavors. In Wells book, The Food Lovers Guide to France, we are introduced to each region with morsels of information recognizing all the qualities each region has to offer. Wells takes us through Bretagne to les Alpes, delving ever further into specifics by dividing these regions by their towns, and listing off town specialties. She writes about the best time to visit each region and lists off odd facts such as as the Criteria for a Perfect Camembert (72). With this book in particular, those once ignorant on the many aspects of French cuisine and culture are now able to distinguish different regions as wells as praise these regions for their accomplishments. Wells writes that the Loire Valley is known for its basketry, along with the tarte Tatin. In this book, Wells evidently intends to make her audience realize that France has so much more to offer than escargots and Coq au Vin. There are some 30,000 miles of area to explore outside of the characteristic French food. Wells has written many books, all with the same theme of valuing all of France for its cultural, specifically gastronomic, diversity. In Bistro Cooking, Wells references the many small

Abby Grasta

November 20, 2012

family restaurants of France. Through short excerpts, we recognize Wells has undoubtedly experienced all these sometimes underappreciated bistros and cafs of France, making her recipes much more personal and endearing. For her Salade de Coques et Moules Gabriel, Wells writes that she spent a day withthird-generation cheesemakers in the village of Roquefort who took her to lunch at a restaurant with no name, prompting her to name the salad after the cheese Wells companions produce, Gabriel Coulet (49). Wells includes in this book morsels of information which help the home cook. For smoked potatoes, she suggests using Chef Jos Lampreia of Pariss Maison Blanche method of smoking potatoes with country to pain with roasted or grilled salmon (146). These bits of advice keep Wells writing relatable to the everyday American cook. She includes recipes from all over France, realizing that the origin of food can heavily alter the method and / or ingredients of which it is made, resulting in a radically different flavor. For instance, a Salade Nioise and Salade Dauphinoise taste different because, understandably, there are different ingredients available for use in these regions. While Nice is famous for its abundance of sweet peppers and mesclun, Dauphin is known for its walnuts, cheese, ham, and cream (48). These are just two of the examples in which Wells emphasizes the French habit of using fresh, seasonal, products native to the region in which they are produced to create the most successful recipe. The reason Wells has gained so much popularity over the course of her career is because of the special attention she pays to not a single country, but instead all of the small communities within a country. This sheds light on the people who work to produce the wonderful ingredients we come to use in cooking. She emphasizes that locality is key when it comes to dining and cooking. This lack of generalization sets Wells apart from those who also write about food. We can only hope that others take after Wells to recognize the absolute diversity in our world.

Abby Grasta Works Cited

November 20, 2012

Wells, Patricia, Jane Sigal, and Susan Herrmann. Loomis. The food lover's guide to France. New York: Workman Pub., 1987. Wells, Patricia. Patricia Wells at home in Provence: Recipes inspired by her farmhouse in France. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996.