the french pantry

My host mother Hélène prepares the most wonderful, simple dinners. Too hot to turn on the stove? A big Salade Niçoise appears. Need a bit of protein? Let’s have Oeufs en Cocotte, or simply put out slices of ham with the lovely heirloom tomato salad. All that’s left in the house is pasta and a single, lonesome tomato? Add a bunch of herbs, an unholy amount of garlic, and a generous glop of olive oil and you’ve got a “pistou” for your noodles.

Almost every dinner, there’s a tomato-heavy salad and fruit for dessert (side note: they salt and pepper their cantaloupe, and it’s great). They don’t drink every night, and when they do, they pour small amounts of rosé over ice cubes. They don’t snack between meals.

So, my take-home of all this is twofold. On the level of practices, I’m eager to make the weekly farmer’s market near me a part of my routine so I can replicate the beautiful salads and dessert fruits that I’ve become used to.

The second bit is more of an observation. Here are five things that are always in Hélène’s pantry that are rarely in mine (a peek in my pantry reveals a million kinds of beans, chipotles in adobo, and canned-tomato variations… I guess it’s obvious how much we make chili-ish meals!)

– Canned green beans
– Canned, high-quality tuna (and its cousin, tinned sardines)
– Chives, which she keeps chopped up in the freezer and adds to EVERYTHING – when’s the last time I used a chive?!
– Eggs (OK, I have those too, but I don’t use them as wisely)
– A selection of cheeses and fruits for dessert purposes (funny, both of these might be a snack in the US)

And bonus,
– “L’eau qui pique” – Sparkling water

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