I studied French for 2 years in high school and 3 years in college. When I started college, I wanted to major in French then get a Masters Degree in Broadcast Journalism and become an international broadcast journalist. I even signed up to the UK Language Project Leeds to boost my knowledge as I was so keen to succeed on this path, but that’s not exactly how my life went. However, I’m not complaining. With all that studying, you may wonder why I need a French phrasebook. My collegiate French was was perfect for ordering Croque Monsieur, crepes, and pastries, but when I started learning to cook French food, I found it lacking. For the past 4 years, I’ve participated in a blogging group called “French Fridays with Dorie.” We’re working our way through Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table,” one recipe a week. Along the way, I realized that my academic vocabulary didn’t include nearly enough words or phrases to support my culinary endeavors. So, when Kourtney at Ulysses Press offered me a copy of Victoria Mas’ “The Farm to Table French Phrasebook” to review, I jumped at the chance! The subtitle, “Master the culture, language and savoir faire of French cuisine,” says it all.
“A comprehensive language guide for food lovers, this indispensable companion also offers a fascinating history of French eats, complete with delicious facts about the cuisines of every region from Alsace’s pinot gris to Normandy’s Pot-au-feu. This compact, beautifully illustrated hardcover gift book is perfect for tucking into your knapsack for a day of sampling gourmet local specialties, or it makes a great present for the Francophile in your life.” ~ Press release
My fellow Dorista, Diane Balch who blogs at Simple Living and Eating, was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this portable reference guide just before she left for Paris. You can read all about her adventures and how she used this book on her trip here. This is a true test.
Victoria’s book isn’t just a glossary, it’s a guide book that provides the histories of foods and wines, how they are best prepared, and the regions they’re from. So, whether you’re preparing fora trip to France, or just want to learn more about French food, Victoria’s is a wonderful guide. My copy will find a spot on the shelf alongside all my French cookbooks until I return to France and take it with me.
She also provides some recipes at the back of the book. We made La Sole Meunière which is an easy and lovely preparation for delicate fish. It is simply dredged in flour and pan-fried in butter. Here is the recipe:
- 6 sole fillets (about 230 grams/ ⅓ to ½ pound each)
- 3 Tablespoons Flour
- 3 Tablespoons. salted butter, divided
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 10 sprgs fresh parsley, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- Remove the skin from the sole fillets. Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
- Spread the flour on a plate and individually dredge both sides of each fillet, shaking each one to remove any excess flour.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place one fillet (or two, if you have space) int he frying pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn over the fillet and leave it to cook another 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and sole fillets. Season cooked fish with lemon and parsley to serve.
A perfect weeknight meal!
We used Petrale Sole for this dish and served it with mashed potatoes, sauteed Brussels sprouts, and Clos du Val Sauvignon Blanc . It was so easy to make for a weeknight dinner and was incredibly delicious! Certainly one of the things I’ve learned about French cuisine is sometimes the simplest preparations are the best.
How would you like to own a copy of Victoria Mas’ “The Farm to Table French Phrasebook?” Luckily, Ulysses Press was generous enough to provide copies to two of my readers! For your chance to win, tell me what your favorite French dish is to make at home (if you’re a blogger, leave the link to your post, too). I will draw 2 winners at random on Wednesday, 17 December. The winners will have 3 days to contact me before forfeiting their copies to the next on the list. Please be sure that I have a way to contact you.