I am thrilled to have Clotilde Dusoulier as the Parisian of the Month. Clotilde writes the mega successful food blog Chocolate and Zucchini, which has spawned two cookbooks and a writing career creating recipes and writing food articles for major publications including the New York Times Magazine and Elle magazine. She was a blog pioneer, starting Chocolate and Zucchini in 2003 and was a big inspiration to me when I started my blog in 2006. Clotilde is releasing a marvelous new cookbook The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen next Tuesday, July 2.( I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy). I will be giving a free copy away of the book next week for a contest, so stay tuned.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Paris, and have lived here my entire life, apart from the two years that I worked in California.
At what age did your appreciation or love of food start, and what are some of your fondest childhood food memories, like your first restaurant or the first time you tried a certain dish and loved it.
My passion for cooking and gastronomy was sparked when I moved to California in my early twenties. The distance and contrast made me examine my deeply ingrained, French food culture, and at the same time I loved exploring the wealth of local and ethnic foods in and around San Francisco.
One of my fondest childhood food memories is going to the local greenmarket with my mother on Sunday mornings, and tagging along as she bought the weekly vegetables from her favorite stalls. I loved observing how she made her selection, the questions she asked, and the relationships she cultivated with the vendors.
You were a pioneer in the food blogging world. How did you get the idea to start your blog and were there other blogs that inspired you before yours?
I started Chocolate & Zucchini ten years ago because I felt a strong need for an outlet to share my thoughts and ideas and recipes, and I wanted to connect with like-minded readers. At the time, there were about a dozen food blogs out there, very few of which still exist today – one of them is Amy Sherman’s “Cooking with Amy.”
What did you do before you became a blogger?
I was a software engineer, and worked for software companies in California and Paris.
What are some of the misconceptions other cultures have about French cooking and French food?
One of the things people often miss about French food is that there is much more to it than just classic French cuisine: regional cuisines have deep roots and wealthy repertoires, and a new generation of chefs is coming up with vibrant new classics all the time.
Your new cookbook, The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen, obviously focuses on vegetarian dishes, but it also leans more towards dairy and gluten free recipes. Is the trend/movement for dairy free and gluten free as popular in France as it is in the U.S.?
With The French Market Cookbook, my purpose was to highlight the fact that a successful vegetarian meal is not simply about removing animal products: it’s about making room to explore a greater variety of plant-based ingredients and flavors. I think it’s exciting to think of it this way, and I hope I’ve conveyed that in the book.
Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea for the book and about some of the recipes?
For the past five years or so, I’ve been eating fewer and fewer animal products and I mostly cook vegetarian meals at home. I’ve had lots of opportunities to develop a colorful repertoire of plant-based recipes, and I wanted to share the best of them in this book.
Some of these recipes are based on naturally vegetarian regional French dishes, others on the work of chefs I admire, and others still are personal creations inspired by seasonal produce.
What are some of the current food trends in Paris, favorable and unfavorable?
The burger craze doesn’t seem to be dying down, is it? New burger joints are opening seemingly every week, and I’m getting a little tired of it…
If you could make dinner for one person either living or dead, who would it be and what would the menu be?
My grandmother passed away while I was writing The French Market Cookbook, and I would like one more chance to cook dinner for her. I would serve the Poor Man’s Bouillabaisse – a highly flavorsome stew of vegetables and eggs served in two installments – to remind her of her time living in Marseille, and perhaps the Peach and Cardamom Clafoutis for dessert.
What do you prefer about Paris?
I love that it is both a big city, with lots of places to explore and new things happening all the time, and a small city, one that’s highly walkable and where each neighborhood feels like its own village.
Can you share a recipe from the new book?
Eggplant and Fresh Herb Tabbouleh
Taboulé d’ aubergine aux herbes fraîches
1½ pounds / 680 g small eggplants
Fine sea salt
2 cups (12 ounces / 340 g) whole wheat couscous
1 small red onion (4¼ ounces/ 120 g), finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups / 480 ml boiling water
1 rounded tablespoon all-natural tahini
1 tablespoon harissa, homemade or store-bought, or more to taste
¼ cup / 60 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup / 30 g sliced fresh mint leaves
1 cup / 30 g sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup / 30 g sliced fresh cilantro leaves
1. Cut the eggplants into ¹⁄³-inch / 8 mm dice. Put in a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and let rest for 1 hour. This will help remove any bitterness. Turn out onto a clean kitchen towel and squeeze gently to absorb the juices.
2. Set up a steamer. Steam the eggplant, tightly covered, until very tender but still holding their shape, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool. This can be done a day ahead and the eggplants refrigerated.
3. In a large heatproof salad bowl, combine the couscous and onion. Stir in the olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling water over the couscous. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes (or according to package directions).Fluff with a fork
and set aside to cool.
4. In a small bowl, combine the tahini, harissa, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, making sure it is incorporated before adding the next to prevent curdling. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir until smooth. You want a dressing that’s pourable, but not too thin; add a little more water as necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. Pour the dressing over the couscous and toss to combine. Fold in the eggplant and mint, basil, and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The salad will keep for a few days.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.