Mastering the Art of Vegan-French Cooking
As an American in Paris, my first years in the City of Lights were filled with a diet that was anything but “light.” When I was diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerance and forced to revamp said diet (which at the time was admittedly 90% bread, cheese and pastry), I thought la vie as I knew it was over.
However, a whole new world opened for me. First of all, I discovered that French cuisine wasn’t simply boeuf bourguignon, croissants and tarte tatin. Traditional French cuisine is, in fact, focused on simplicity, seasonal eating and finding a balance between savoring and appreciating food, but eating it in moderation.
A restricted diet can be tough for anyone, particularly for those who love food and love sharing food with others. I feared that my social life would suffer and that I’d never again be able to enjoy my favorite French foods. Au contraire! While perhaps I will never again be able to stop at my local Parisian boulangerie twice daily for a fresh-baked wheat baguette and buttery pastry du jour (this may be a good thing!), I’ve learned that is it possible to entertain and entertain my taste buds with delicious fare. Like fine French fashion, simple but elegant is usually best. Dressing all in black with the perfect pair of jeans, then accessorizing by season with a splash of color or a beautiful scarf, isn’t so different from dressing up a perfectly cooked quinoa salad with some seasonal vegetables and a delectable sauce.
Auguste Escoffier would likely be shouting sacre bleu! if he knew his beloved mother sauces were given a dairy-free makeover. And French grandmothers from Brittany might be teary-eyed to discover their dear traditional crêpes have been fattened up American-style. However, allergies are more ubiquitous in 2015 than they were in 1915 so it is time to adapt, oui? Whether your guests are vegan, gluten-free or will eat anything, the recipes here are crowd-pleasers that are also perfect as leftovers for one, so feel free to make several portions at once. As Julia Child said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients.”
First published June 2015