Celebrate Bastille Day Like a Frenchman with These Easy Recipes
The first time I ate true French food was when my parents took me to France for three months during the summer of 1995. I was seven, which is perhaps not the best age to be introduced to a cuisine that considers snails a delicacy and doesn't really do peanut butter.
Photo from Footprint Books Party like it's 1880 in Carcassonne, France!
Fortunately, I quickly developed a taste for two of the most common meals at Parisian cafes and restaurants: steak haché avec pommes frites and salade niçoise. For snacks, I dined on Nutella crêpes or fresh baguettes with stinky cheese and a bottle of Orangina. And dessert! Well, convincing me to eat pastries was never a chore, what with the bounty of heavenly éclairs, palmiers and fruit tarts displayed like jewels in patisserie windows.
One of the most exciting days of that summer was Bastille Day, a celebration in remembrance of the storming of the Bastille prison during the French Revolution. The festivities involve fireworks, parades, drunken revelry and, of course, lots and lots of food.
Bastille Day, or as they call it in France, la Fête de la Fédération, marked a turning point in the French Revolution. On the morning of July 14, 1789, the proletariat French citizens, fed up with their treatment by the aristocracy, surged into the prison (which to them represented royal tyranny) with the goal of obtaining gunpowder and ammunition to use in later conflicts against the royal military. There was no clear winner in the battle that ensued, but shortly after the storming of the Bastille, feudalism was abolished in France, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed. It was made an official holiday in 1880, and today it is celebrated with the same amount of fanfare and fireworks with which we celebrate the Fourth of July.
Because France holds a special place in my heart, I choose to celebrate Bastille Day in some form every year. Generally, this involves French food and a drunken conversation or two in my broken French. However, because Julia Child I am not, I've learned how to do French cuisine the simple, easy way with good ingredients and copious amounts of wine (to be consumed both during cooking and the subsequent meal).
Here are a few of my favorite French recipes. Try them out this July 14 for a meal that is truly magnifique!