French gastronomy is the benchmark for the world’s finest cuisine. The creativity bubbling up in French food today is rooted in of thousands of years of culinary history, the collective heritage of a country that has always focused (sometimes obsessively) on everything that it puts on the table.
Join French cuisine expert Susan Herrmann Loomis for a lively tour through the centuries that showcases the rich history of a unique and beloved cuisine and the influences that shaped it. Learn how the Egyptians “discovered” foie gras, and how the Jewish migration brought it to France; how the Gauls stumbled on the art of curing meats, which led to the French love of pork; why Julius Caesar is responsible for the fine sea salt of Guérande; and how the French pastry chef came to be considered the best in the world.
Loomis also follows the potato’s transformation from contraband to a pillar of French cooking; how Amédée-François Frézier, one of the Sun King’s ship captains, changed royal life with a gift of strawberry plants; and why, thanks to the Crusades, the French make plum tarts, apricot jams, and cakes shaped like jeweled crowns.
Once you’ve learned some of the stories behind its colorful history, you’ll appreciate the heritage, variety, and flavor of French cuisine even more. The evening concludes with a reception featuring French-inspired specialties.
Loomis is an author, professionally trained chef, and proprietor of On Rue Tatin, a cooking school that she operates from her 15th-century home in Normandy.
MENU: A TASTE OF FRANCE
Charcuterie and Cheese Selections
A rustic display of saucisson sec with herbes de Provence, country pâté, herbed goat cheese, blue cheese, brie, mixed olives, nuts, and dried and fresh fruit served with crackers, country French bread, and whole-grain mustard
Petite Ham and Brie Baguettes
Dry-cured smoked ham, brie, and crisp apple slices with honey mustard on a baguette
Gruyère and Leek Tart
Aged Gruyère and fresh leeks layered into a pastry cup
Thinly-sliced eggplant, tomatoes, and squash in a French-herb and roasted-tomato sauce
Brochette de Poulet
Grilled chicken skewers marinated in a blend of lemon, turmeric, coriander, garlic, onion, mustard, and ginger
A Sweet Ending
An array of French pastries: Chocolate-dipped palmiers, raspberry financiers, espresso madeleines, and petite beignets with chocolate and fruit filling
Assorted white wines, still and sparkling water
Beyond culinary trends and experimentation, French cuisine’s foundation has always been in beloved, time-honored recipes. Try your hand at two of them from Susan Herrmann Loomis: a classic roast chicken and a pâté that echoes the richness of fois gras.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)