What’s with all this French bizness?

Today we disassembled a chicken. And a duck. That’s kind of all there is to say about that, since it wasn’t so much brand new territory. There’s also not much to show for it picture-wise, since I was up to my elbows in potential salmonella all morning.

So I thought I’d take a minute to summarize the idea of French technique, insofar as I understand it without having done any additional research besides that which has happened for class.

While the French did not specifically invent cooking, they are credited with organizing the way professional kitchens operate with one person at the helm who designs the menu (Chef) and others who are responsible for their specific departments – fish, sauce, grill, salads, etc. (Fancy French words for all of these.) This isn’t so different than the assembly line idea. Better to have people specialize both for the ability to achieve excellence in their areas and to improve kitchen traffic.

So yes, in deference to the French we use a lot of their terminology. Doesn’t “supreme” (pronounced with the short e) have a lot more gravitas than “boneless chicken breast”?

That does also mean, since I know you’re wondering, that we are cooking with a lot of butter. This has mostly to do with historical precedence. In days of yore, you cooked with the fat you had available to you. In Paris, that was butter. Olives don’t grow but in specific warm climates. AND – this will shock many of you I hope – turns out olive oil isn’t that great to cook with. Yeah, we’ve fetishized it of late since it is relatively low in saturated fat. But olive oil is more intended as a finishing oil, as heating it ruins its flavor. I offer as evidence the label on your bottle of olive oil – look for the words “first cold pressed.” (Even your basic supermarket brand probably has this.) You want that. Buy the third or fourth pressing you have to heat the olives to extract the remaining oil, which is when things start to get seriously cheap. With the exception of the scrambled egg experiement, we have yet to use it.

And also butter is delicious.

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2 Responses to What’s with all this French bizness?

  1. Brian says:

    This is everything I ever wanted to know but was afraid to ask. I am so genuinely enjoying every single post of yours here! When I’m notified of a new one I drop what I am doing to read. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences in such detail for us.

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