Text+pics by Chef Joey
France. The country known for its delicious food, rich in butter … sauces, creams and, of course, flavor. One thing about the French: lunch is the meal of the day. Breakfast and dinner are the light side of the spectrum. My grandmother Hélène had an expression: “You eat like a prince in the morning, a king at noon, and a pauper at night.” This still rings true; lunch is an important meal. Here in France banks and many stores close for a two-hour civilized lunch break.
Breakfast is typically always a warm beverage, café au lait, tea or even hot chocolate. When I was a kid in France I walked to the bakery every morning to get the paper for my grandparents and a fresh baguette. Every now and then I would get a croissant. However, it was a treat because it cost more than a loaf of bread. It still is the same here. The price of fresh bread is set by the government and cannot be more than .95 cents for a baguette. There are many different breads, all at various prices: country style, brioche, whole wheat and even double-sized baguettes called “restaurant bread.”
My favorite memory of being a child, and now doing the same for my daughter Gigi, is a fresh baguette sliced in half and filled with butter and jam.
Confiture “Bonne Maman” is available in the states, and hands down it is one of the best. I do not go to the bakery daily; I buy the bread and freeze it immediately. Five minutes in the oven and it is as fresh as the day I bought it!
Another alternative is frying your bread in butter. It’s delicious and a great way to use stale bread. French toast is an afternoon snack for energy – I’ve never really had it for breakfast.
Another item is a piece of cake, literally! This recipe is from my grandmother, who named it after herself – Gâteau Taunte Hélène.
Aunt Helene’s Cake:
Simple and delicious:
1 plain yogurt yogurt (8 oz)
1 cup sugar (I use ½)
1 tsp rum
½ cup oil
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Beat the eggs. Mix with the yogurt and add everything else. Pour into a pan and bake 350 degrees for about 15 mins in a 9-inch round pan. Use a toothpick to test. Simple and delicious!