I’m not much of a summer cook. I like to cook the foods of cooler weather — spicy gingerbreads, hearty stews, root vegetables that stick to your ribs. Summer, at least in Los Angeles, is really to hot to do this type of cooking, and those foods are literally the last food on earth you feel like eating. It doesn’t help that in the summertime on Bacon and Tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob, which, while providing an entirely balanced diet (what? That’s what I’ve had for dinner for the past 4 nights in a row!), is not so much the stuff of food blogs.
The problem, of course, is that summertime is when my local farmer’s market offers its greatest bounty. I am confronted with weekly heaps of Gaviota strawberries, Blenheim apricots, Elephant Heart plums, and the biggest, fattest blackberries you’ve ever seen. And while I do LOVE fruit (and my love cannot hold a candle to that of my husband and my child) sometimes I am compelled to buy more fresh fruit than even our family can eat. And so I am forced to cook, even in the summer. [...]
It’s the fourteenth of July, known in France as Le Quatorze Juillet and in America as Bastille Day. It’s a national holiday in France, celebrating the Revolution and its principles of Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite. So what day would be better to return to the summer travel series and talk about Paris?
Is there any city more recognizable than Paris? From the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, the city is firmly embedded in many people’s imaginations — full of romance and possibility and beauty. And the thing about Paris is that it actually lives up to its reputation. It is beautiful, and romantic and glamorous. It’s also noisy and crowded and exciting and infuriating.
Gertrude Stein said, “America is my country, but Paris is my home town,” and I identify strongly with that sentiment. Although I grew up in Los Angeles, my parents are huge francophiles, and we spent a good portion of my childhood summers in Paris. We’d stay in an apartment, rather than a hotel, and live there for a month at a time. As a result, it’s a city that feels like home. I have a mental map of where I am in relation to the river, of the posh neighborhoods and the seedy ones. And Paris holds many special memories for me. I got drunk for the first time in Paris. I felt homesick for the first time in Paris. I learned to walk in Paris. And twenty nine years later, my daughter did as well. This recipe for duck in blackberry sauce is reminiscent of what you would find in a Parisian brasserie, and takes me right there. [...]