Monday, November 23, 2009

On Ice

We've been eating a bit bizarrely over the past couple of days as I try to clean out the odds and ends to make space in our refrigerator for Thanksgiving goodies. We actually have a refrigerator that's rather large by Parisian standards unlike my neighbor across the street who was forced to do this, a not uncommon sight here:



Most kitchens in the older Haussmanian buildings also have a little cupboard under the window that is ventilated to the outside, the perfect place to store root vegetables and other things that don't mind the cold. The one in our place was boarded up long ago when the kitchen was moved from the back to a more central location but this one is just across our courtyard.

11 comments:

Gabriel said...

hi there, I find your blog quite interesting! what is the person in the first pic trying to do? haha. :D

Belle de Ville said...

When I lived in Paris my apartment in the 8th had the tiniest kitchen and appliances. I still managed to eat the best home cook meals of my life when I lived there. Admittedly, I had to have the butcher cook two capons for my Thanksgiving dinner party, becuase I didn't have room in my tiny oven.

Starman said...

If I live to be a million years old, I will never understand why a city that prides itself on its cooking prowess has the tiniest kitchens in the world. Our hostess in Lyon had a kitchen that was bigger than ours, although ours is small compared to most American kitchens.

debbie in toronto said...

That window vent is really neat...necessity if the mother of invention for sure.

Rosabell said...

Well, americans do have large kitchens, but what do they use it for ??? To microwave industrialised processed food ?? Of coure, it is nice to have a large kitchen but the important thing is tu use it for real cooking... We have recently "upgraded" our fridge to a bigger one ( bigger by french standards)and I am afraid it will mainly "help us " store old food. I usually cook about twice a day because everybody in my family eats only fresh food an my husband and son have different likings while I sort of diet:) Well, so I have to cook twice a day 3 different fresh meals :))) It is madness, I know ,but it is the way we have always eaten :)) What I want to say is that my kitchen, which is not that large ( about 10 square meters) is more than enough.

Anne said...

Rosabell: Yes, there are Americans who use their big kitchens for not much but I have to defend my countrymen here! There are plenty of Americans who love to cook wonderful fresh food; the incredible growth of organic markets and greenmarkets in the U.S. is testimony to this. I think Americans like big kitchens because the kitchen is not just a place to cook but a place to congregate. We like to hang out with the cook and those who are cooking are usually happy to have the company.

Nathalie said...

I'm with Rosabell. Anne is of course right to point out that not all Americans reheat processed dross in their overly-huge kitchens, and that there are grassroots developments in famers' markets and in cooking and eating properly.

But - as a French person who lived in the US for some time - it did seem to me to be true that the reason for the gigantism of fridges and freezers (and hence kitchens) was partly due to people shopping relatively infrequently in supermarkets for huge amounts of heavily-packaged, processed/frozen food and then storing it for long periods. If you shop for fresh food more frequently and in less bulk, you need less space to store it in - hence Parisians don't need US-sized kitchens. (And it should be said that the neighbour across the street hanging something out the window to stay cool looks to be living in a little chambre de bonne, not a normal apartment.)

Also, this is the wrong time of the year to convince foreigners that US food culture isn't very weird indeed. Thanksgiving food always seems to be to be stuck in some terrible processed timewarp - all those ready-bought things, the processed pumpkin people seem to use so much, and disgusting things like green bean casserole and savoury things with marshmallow on it!

Anne said...

Okay first of all this post wasn't the defense of the large kitchen or even the mocking of the small. But again, I'm going to say that there are a lot more similarities between French and American food shopping than people are willing to admit. Have you seen what's inside Franprix, Monoprix, Carrefour, Leader Price, Casino, Champion and Auchan? It looks pretty much like Safeway or Kroger to me.

And while there won't be any marshmallows on my Thanksgiving table, let's just say that every culture has its special foods that others have a hard time understanding. Tete de veau anyone?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I feel like I should have every foreign visitor in Chicago over for Thanksgiving dinner, where everything will be prepared from fresh real food. (Marshmallows are for s'mores at campfires.) As an American who lived in London with young children, the daily-shopping-because-you-can't-store-more-than-1-liter-each-of-milk-and-juice-in-the-refrigerator routine wasn't as glamorous as the fresh vegetables and nicely cooked meals makes it sound. I did it and enjoyed some aspects of it, but am happy to be able to keep a stable of refrigerated staples on hand here in the land of big kitchens.

Still a Fan in Chicago

Nathalie said...

Anne, no attack intended. I did say I realised not all Americans shop and eat badly. I simply wanted to point out that a big kitchen doesn't necessarily translate into good cooking, and it does sometimes get a little wearisome to hear Americans complaining about the size of European kitchens, as if we were backward types who didn't realise what kitchens were supposed to be like. And yes, absolutely, the stock of an Auchan isn't so different to that of a US supermarket, but my point is that virtually no one here would think it was normal to do all their shopping at Auchan - you'll go elsewhere for bread, cheese, good meat, fruit and vegetables, and specialties, at the very least. And there does seem to be a presumption that most US shopping is done in the supermarket.

Anonymous, I'm sure your dinner is great. But it interests me that you said shopping more frequently because of limited space wasn't 'glamorous'. That's my point, it isn't supposed to be glamorous, or some kind of lifestyle choice to do with making a special effort - it's just normal for lots of people.

I wasn't thinking of anything like s'mores, though - believe me, I wish it was that innocuous! - but the 'Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with marshmallows' dish I was offered at a Massachusetts Thanksgiving dinner, and which produces several hundred thousand Google hits, so presumably isn't some kind of weird rarity specific to the family I ate with.

Gator said...

Starman,
"I will never understand why a city that prides itself on its cooking prowess has the tiniest kitchens in the world"

I'm afraid you've been lied to (or worse, you're confusing Paris and France)...
The cooking prowess thing doesn't apply to Paris, just France.
Can you even name a Parisian dish? Because I can't...
Steak tartare maybe??? (to my knowledge, it feels that Paris is the only place in France where it's common).

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