I am honored to have kindred spirit Elizabeth Bard on French Revolution. Any woman who grows up near New York, moves to France, marries a Frenchman, then moves to Provence, opens an ice cream store, and spends every spare minute writing about what she eats in her fabulous life is welcome to take over these pages. She has chronicled it all in Lunch in Paris and her latest memoir with recipes, Picnic in Provence. I am an unerring fan. Here, a few of her thoughts about France, food, Twizzlers, and asparagus tongs.
I will be excerpting two of the recipes from Elizabeth’s Picnic in Provence over the coming days. In celebration of the new book, Elizabeth has agreed to answer a question submitted by readers! And one lucky reader will win a copy of Picnic in Provence. So leave your questions in the comments section of this post, or on Facebook (#PicnicInProvence) or Twitter (@FrenchRev #PicnicInProvence) or Instagram (@KerrySaretsky #PicnicInProvence). Pre-order Picnic in Provence here.
Interview with Writer and Entrepreneur Elizabeth Bard
Kerry Saretsky: What defines Frenchness?
Elizabeth Bard: Pleasure and moderation.
KS: What defines French food?
EB: Ditto, pleasure and moderation
KS: What makes food Parisian?
KS: And what makes food Provençal?
EB: Olive Oil.
KS: What are the best towns and restaurants to visit in Provence?
EB: We live in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, which is the less developed, some might say more authentic, part of Provence. A visit to the Monday morning market in Forcalquier is a real treat. Just outside Cereste is the hilltop village of Montjustin; they have a tiny Bistro de Pays that serves a “menu unique” – you eat whatever they are making that day. The terrace is sunny and protected from the wind; even in Feb[ruary], you can eat in a tee-shirt. Whenever we need a two hour vacation – that’s where we go.
KS: Your favorite places to eat in Paris?
EB: Honestly, now that we live in the countryside, where there is no ethnic cuisine of any kind, when I go back to Paris all I want to eat is Thai and Vietnamese food in Belleville…
KS: What ingredients and tricks have you picked up since moving to France?
EB: Don’t judge a book by its cover – my friend the hairy celery root is a case in point.
KS: What was the moment when you thought to yourself, I’ve gone native?
EB: There was the almost tribal satisfaction of gutting by first whole fish…
KS: What foods do you long for when you come back to America?
EB: Crap – Twizzlers, Dots, Hershey’s Kisses. But my palate has changed so much that this kind sugar now gives me a migraine. I love a good rare hamburger with fried onions, my mother’s noodle pudding and the apple cider donuts from the farm stand.
KS: What is the secret to perfect ice cream?
EB: If you want great texture from a home machine, it’s best to eat the ice cream the day (or even the hour) it’s made.
KS: What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
EB: Dream big, work harder than you thought possible, be stubborn about your principals.
KS: Favorite food writers or food books?
EB: Like everyone I know, I’m cooking my way through Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem at the moment. I love reading M.K. Fisher. Nigella Lawson always makes me hungry – I love her dry, honest voice. I somehow reread Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential at least once a year. He’s got a fabulous ear for the kitchen.
The Epicurean Proust
1 What is your idea of perfect culinary happiness?
A really terrific fresh-filled cannoli.
6 What is your greatest culinary extravagance?
A few Christmases ago, I bought myself a huge cherry red Le Creuset.
15 What or who is the greatest love of your life?
16 When and where were you happiest? In life? In food?
On holiday with my husband in a tiny seaside village in Crete, eating grilled calamari and reading 19th century novels.
19 What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Doing something I love for a living, and recording family history in the process.
21 Where would you most like to live? Paris or Provence? Small town or big city?
I’m still a city girl at heart, but I love the neighborliness of the village. And my son just adopted a goat!
22 What is your most treasured culinary possession?
My mother’s silver asparagus tongs.
28 Who is your hero of food?
My friend Marion Peyric. She’s an organic farmer in Cereste, and she shares her love of all things true and tasty with her friends, her clients, her interns, her colleagues. She’s a wonderful ambassador for the land and foods she loves.
35 What is your culinary motto?