It seems a bit odd that after Thanksgiving we should be talking about bouillabaisse. Most of us still have left-over turkey in our refrigerators and now we are talking about fish soup!?! Well, if you are not fond of fish this day may not be your favorite.
This dish comes to us from the Mediterranean Sea area where fish dishes are prevalent. It can have nearly any kind of fish in it but most contain Cod, Snapper, Flounder, Halibut, Sea Bass, Monk Fish (Any white fish) or it may contain all of them.
The dish seems to have come from France, Marseille to be exact. Here’s a popular recipe from the area. It is also popular in the United States around the New Orleans area which, of course, use to be a part of the French colonies.
You really do have to enjoy fish to enjoy Bouillabaisse. I have had it before and it does taste pretty good, normally a little spicy, but I d have to admit it smells pretty strong. It is somewhat healthy and maybe a welcome break from all the turkey and mashed potatoes you’ve had that comes with the season.
How to celebrate – Have Bouillabaisse for supper tonight. Save up all your left-over fish from dinners and put it in your soup, or stew. Visit New Orleans or Marseille.
Dec. 12th – Gingerbread House Day
Gingerbread houses have become a traditional part of the Christmas holidays. It actually came about somewhere around 992 AD when Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis brought back ginger from his travels. He began to teach the French Christians how to prepare food with ginger and one thing led to another and the Gingerbread House was invented.
It did not become popular until the Grimm Brothers used it for Hansel and Gretel in their terrifying tales.
How to celebrate – Make a Gingerbread House. Read Hansel and Gretel. Write your own Christmas story featuring a Gingerbread House.
I have always thought the French Revolution was an odd occurrence. Not that it happened, the people wanted democracy over the Constitutional Monarchy. Don’t blame them. What is odd is that the monarch of France thought it was a good idea to help America win it’s revolution with out any thought that his own people might do the same!
Well, they did, and on July 14th, 1789 they stormed the Bastille to take over the country. Now most think the Bastille was a government building and I guess, in a way, it sort of was. It was a prison. The people freed those who could lead the rebellion against the king, most of whom the king had put in the Bastille. In France it is known as “Fete de la Federation”.
One thing we should remember is that freedom is something won, not given. It has to be fought for and to fight for it, you have to have weapons. The first thing Germany did before World War 2 was to take away all weapons from the people. They could not fight back. Same thing after the Russian Revolution bringing communism into power. In fact, nearly every country that has had it’s right to bear arms taken away has lost it’s people’s freedom. (Not so in the UK)
Bastille Day has been celebrated ever since July 14th, 1790. It will continue to be celebrated as long as the French people are free. Just like here in the US. We should love one another, but be able to defend our freedom from all those who would take it away. If you look at every country where people are suffering, you will find they have no way to fight back.
How to celebrate – Throw a Bastille Day party! Celebrate your freedom! Study history to know how we all got to be where we are.
Here’s another one of those days I just don’t understand, National Escargot Day. For those who like Escargot I guess it makes perfect sense and is a wonderful day to enjoy one of their favorite foods. But who discovered it as food?
I mean, look at it. Who is going to reach down on the ground and pick up a snail and go, “Yum, that looks good enough to eat”!?! My thoughts are, someone pretty darn hungry. Did they see animals eating them? Did they watched what the snails ate and decide that made them taste good. I would say apparently not because there has been a lot of experimentation on how to prepare them to taste their best.
I guess the butter, garlic, parsley and pepper cover up the actual taste of the snail. You still have to look at it, unless you close your eyes. I have never personally found something crawling on the ground something I wanted to put in my mouth. For those of you that love it, wonderful I think it is probably more the though of eating it to me than the taste.
But if you like Escargot, this is your day! You can order without thought of what others think and enough it down to the very… very… shell of it. My guess is that you have to eat a lot of them to fill up, they aren’t very big.
But make sure it is well done, or your dinner might leave the table on it’s own.
How to celebrate – Have a snail for dinner tonight. Go snail hunting. Try a slug instead of a snail.
Well this ought to be a tasty day! We should thank the French! They call their pastry, patisserie in which case I thank the English for shortening the word. Actually I thank the Pastry Chefs who make the pastry!
I was surprised to find there is more than one type of pastry. There is shortcrust, flaky, puff, choux, phyllo and hot water pastry. Does anyone really care? Probably not so long as you are invited to eat at least one of the varieties.
It’s sort of odd that something so light and airy can be so rich and filling. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy about it, but still amazed. As it should be, the French have made a real art of food with their high point reaching pastry.
I say that because when you consider some of the other dishes the French make might be a bit questionable. Snails strike me right off. I mean, if you like them good for you but I am not sure who saw a snail crawling along the ground and said to themselves, “That looks good enough to eat!”
But back to the subject at hand. I can see someone walking by a table filled with pastries and saying, “That looks good enough to eat! I think I’ll have ten or twenty of them!”
How to celebrate – Have a pastry! Take in some pastries to work today (Or at least pretend to since today is Saturday!) Become your household pastry chef by learning how to cook pastry yourself.
You know, sometimes ya just got to wonder who looked at something like a snail and said to themselves… “That looks like good eating!” Something crawling through the slime and the mud on the ground or in a pool of stagnant water, oh yum!
I mean, I don’t really even want to touch them let alone put them in my mouth. Now I am sure that prepared right they probably taste pretty good. Oh, who’s kidding who, they taste like… like… like… snails!
Besides, with those long… ah, ears(?) they are sort of cute. They carry their home around on their backs and don’t bother anybody! It’s not like you have to hunt them or chase them down when they try to get away. So where’s the sport?
Of course, I guess when we die and are rotting they feed on us so turn about is fair play. And how many do you need to eat to get filled up? Do they pop when you bite into them? Do they slide down your throat like oysters? And once they get in your stomach do they start to make their way back up?
How to celebrate – Well, if you like Escargot, this is your day, go ahead and have a plate full, in fact you can have mine too! I wonder if it makes a good breakfast like left-over pizza? If you start searching early in the morning you mind find enough snails for supper tonight!
Wouldn’t a Frappe taste good right now? There are three different types of frappes. The one most of us know is the blended coffee, or espresso, drink topped with Whipped Cream. One of a fruit type dessert than is frozen and serves with shaved ice. And the third just in general, a milkshake.
Though the word is actually French, the drink itself comes to us from Greece where it was accidentally invented by Dimitris Vakondious in 1957 in Thessaloniki. It is defined as something between a Slushes and a Iced Coffee.
Of course your local coffee shops have made this a part of your regular daily choice for a beverage. They have added many flavors, styles and shapes to an already enormous selection.
Here are a few recipes for you to try. Take note though, this is not a drink you want to down quickly. This is adrink you will want ot take your time with, savor and relax with.
How to celebrate – Either make yourself a frappe this morning or visit your ocal coffe shop and buy one. Wait until your work is done for the day and then sit and listen to some cool jazz, or your favorite, and sip your drink. Try your own combinations to make a totally original frappe that maybe someday will be named for you!
Pralines are confections made from nuts, whole or crushed, and sugar syrup. Most today have an added chocolate flavoring to them (particularly Belgian and French). In Europe, most pralines are made with almonds. In the US they generally use pecans. Really, any kind of nut can be used.
In the 17th century, at Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte (France), Marshal du Plessis-Praslin (who lived from 1598 to 1675) inspired the first praline when he came up with a caramelized sugar poured over almonds. The idea caught on. In fact, any food that contains ground nuts and sugar syrup is considered a praline. The action of crushing the nuts and placing them in sugar is called pralin. So pralines exist in cakes and even ice cream.
There are basically three types of pralines: Belgian, created with a hard chocolate shell and a soft or liquid inner core, French, made with almonds and caramelized sugar, and the American, made more like a fudge with any type of nut and the sugar made into a creamy or milky coating.
When the French colonized Louisiana they brought their recipes with them. Since nuts and sugar cane were readily available in the area it was only natural that they began producing pralines. New Orleans chefs substituted the pecan since it was easier to find and they added cream to the mixture to make it richer.
How to celebrate: Go buy some pralines, they are readily available at nearly any grocery or candy shop. Enjoy some praline ice cream. Make your own pralines from the recipe above.
Today is National Cordon Bleu Day. The actual original name was schnitzel cordon bleu. I always thought it was French but apparently, its Swiss. (Hence why we spell it Bleu instead of Blue.) The original version was made with veal but it has gone on to include ham and chicken. By definition it means a meat wrapped around cheese, breaded and then pan-fried or deep-fried. (For those health conscious, you can also bake it)
Here’s a recipe for Cordon Bleu for those of you that are do not have one of your own. I suppose you could use anything you want in place of the meat, as long as you put cheese in the center. There was even a recipe for fish Cordon Bleu but I passed on that one. The first time it appeared in a cook book was in the 1940’s, a veal recipe. Ham followed next in 1955 and finally chicken in 1967. (I could have sworn I had cordon bleu before 1967 but that was so long ago)
Cordon Bleu actually means “Blue Ribbon”, which is French. It came from Henry III court in France and was given to the “Highest Order of Knighthood”. Known as L’Ordres des Chevaliers du Saint-Esprit, 1578.
Some inventing chef even mixed ham and chicken together to make their Cordon Bleu, what most of us commonly know today. So I guess Chicken, Veal or Ham served up with cheese, breaded and fried is Blue Ribbon material.