Bread, Cheese and Wine – all products of fermentation, products that require an artisan to prepare properly, products of passion and commitment and products that represent the foundations of a great cuisine.
Having just returned from a far too short week in France, I relish the experience of realizing that no mater where you travel in this country, the people are fully committed to these foundations. They understand them, appreciate them, live by them and communicate every day using bread, wine and cheese as the common denominator representing not just a country’s cuisine, but the core of its culture as well.
Paris, of course, has more than it’s share of great boulangeries, wine shops and cheese vendors, but it is the countryside that serves as the bounty for a country defined by great food foundations. Even the smallest town in Burgundy will have at least one if not two or three excellent bakeries. Look to the left, look to the right and you will find wine vines producing sometimes exceptional, but always great local wines. Finding world class cheese is not difficult, in fact it is so essential to life in France that it is as much a staple in shops and homes as eggs and milk are in the United States.
The most impressive thing is that the French are serious about their food. As America enjoys a food integrity metamorphosis, we can look to the French countryside for inspiration. The French have been buying local, using grass-fed animals, avoiding the use of chemicals, enjoying the work of artisans and planning their menus based on the seasons for as long as time.
Bread in particular is simply extraordinary in France. From petite dejunier to late night dinner, cafe latte with baguette or croissant and confiture to croustades with your rillette- bread plays a central role in the meal.
Drinking wine is not reserved for those who have the resources and wine knowledge to purchase from the best wine shops; wine in France is all about knowing the vintner, visiting and touching the vines, breaking bread with the wine maker who is your neighbor, and clinking glasses while tasting in their private wine cellars. In the country, every home has a wine cave – the most treasured part of the family estate.
To truly understand the foundations of cuisine (bread, wine and cheese) you MUST visit the countryside of France. This is a right of passage for any serious culinarian and food lover.
Each time I visit France, it is time in the country that leaves me truly appreciative of the impact that food can have on culture. It is so wonderful to see Americans turning back to an understanding of this and an appreciation for the foundations.
I can hardly wait to return.
Beginning in the fall of 2013, Harvest America Ventures in conjunction with the Weissberg family of France will be offering educational wine vacations in the Burgundy Region. Stay tuned for more information soon, but visit our website in the meantime at: http://www.harvestamericaventures.com and click on “Food and Wine Vacations” for a sampling of content. If you are interested simply send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will place you on the information mailing list.