Here's the first one in this Parisian Series, called:
The Parisians love books.There seem to be bookstores on every corner. And Parisians take them everywhere, into cafes and brasseries. One day after lunch, I stopped in a bookstore that looked promising. Instinctively, I found myself in the cookbook section of the store. Consequently, I found an interesting little book titled, 100 Recettes Made in USA (“100 Recipes Made in the USA”). After wondering why anyone in France would buy such a book (albeit it was only 5,95€), I was nonetheless curious to see what the French considered to be “American” food. The first section is called Sur le Pouce, which means “on the go,” I guess this is so because the French think Americans always move and eat (whether in cars or on our feet), rather than sit down for a languid noonday meal for an hour and an half with a bottle of wine. (Of course, they would be right.)
The first recipe is for making one’s own hot dog buns and hamburger buns. I’m not making this up. If you followed this recipe, it would take you about an hour and half to make ten buns. Perhaps the French don’t realize that Americans don’t make anything from scratch, much less hot dog or hamburger buns. And why should we? I doubt most French people make their own croissants or baguettes, for the simple reason that neither we nor they have the time. Even in Los Angeles, you can barely get to the store and back in less than an hour and a half. I can also think of a lot of other things I would rather do in an hour and a half rather than make hotdog buns: watch the first half of a college football game or enjoy a languid noonday meal with a bottle of wine. In the book, there are also recipes for making your own bagels, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise. Again, why bother? Just buy it at the store. That’s the American way!
The first section in the book also has a recipe for French fries! Aren’t these French? Isn’t it just a bit ironic that a French cookbook with recipes for American fast food has a recipe for French fries? Yet the most intriguing recipe was for something called “Pizza Hot Dog.” And while I did find a few “Hot Dog Pizza” recipes on the Internet, I still don’t consider this enough of an American culinary phenomenon to have been placed in a French cookbook on American food.
The next section is called Classiques Américains (“American Classics”). This section made a bit more sense. This section has recipes for such true American classics such as meatloaf, fried chicken, and chili. But then there are the outliers: pumpkin soup with cheddar cheese (not sure I’ve seen this one at Thanksgiving); Haitian soup; and something called Butte pastry.
The book also had a dessert section, which also provided to be no less interesting than the others with a few surprises thrown in. As one would expect, there were recipes for apple pie, pumpkin pie, brownies, red velvet cake, and chocolate chip cookies. But the book also had a recipe for pancakes, blueberry pancakes, banana bread, and corn bread, items that Americans typically don’t consider dessert foods.
The last section, Boissons (“Drinks”) contained recipes for milkshakes and smoothies. OK, I can see that, but what about egg nog? Most Americans don’t like egg nog, and when they drink it, it is only during the holidays. But then perhaps the most bizarre items in the cook book kicked in. Something called “bubble teas.” What?! They come in various flavors like sesame, coconut, and mint and contain tapioca. A little of Internet research revealed that these drinks originated in Taiwan and are somewhat popular in France. So, I’m not sure how this got into a cookbook claiming to be dedicated to American food.
Brillat Savarin once said, “if you show me what you eat, I’ll show who you are.” To expand upon that phrase, one could say that if I show you a nation’s cookbook, I could tell you about that country. That may be true, unless it’s in French and its a so-called American cookbook. I wonder what the French would have to say about our “French” cookbooks.