J’aime to Eat – A Bastille Day Celebration

July 14, 2009


This is a delicious tale of envy and passion…Sealed With a French Kiss.
It was balmy night in Monte Carlo.  Impossibly perfect, sun-burnished beings crowned the sea-front cafés, nibbling on moules et frites (mussels and fries), washing them down with bottles of Dom.  As we dabbed the drool from the corners of our lips, our sunburned, backpacking crew of 4 clutched our canteens of lukewarm water and moved like hungry wolves in search of a meal that wouldn’t drain every last Franc from our cut-offs.
After coming close to settling for a ‘hambourgese’ joint for a cheap burger (mon Dieu!), the royal sceptor of the city blessed us with a family owned respite that offered a handful of authentic coastal dishes without breaking the banc.  It is then that I was introduced to Salade Niçoise.

Although I could have eaten the sand from the beach and have been content, the crisp, cold bed of butter lettuce topped with fresh tuna, sugary Roma tomatoes, al dente haricot verts (fancy green beans), fork-tender potatoes and hard boiled eggs, topped with tender Niçoise olives, a light Balsamic vinaigrette and the pièce de resistance – a crown of salty anchovies – combined to make every lasting bite one that nearly brought me to joyful tears.  To top it all off, the son of the proprietress, in a gesture of ‘Frenchship’ (get it?) brought us their house cocktail – a sultry Chambord concoction known as a French kiss.  We had found the good life.
In honor of Bastille Day today, we say Vive la France and dedicate this issue to the gastronomique capital of the world.   Learn more about the savoir faire of kids, preview Julie and Julia, and read about a farmer whose passion for clean eating took down McDonald’s with a single plow.
Here’s to clean plates and bon appetits!  
Mon amie, Julia 

Being the daughter of a professor, my dad was not very keen on mainstream tv when I was growing up.  It was either PBS or nothing, so depending on the time of day, we got to watch Nova or Wild Animal Kingdom.  Then I discovered Dinner at Julia’s.



I never met her but she became my friend and mentor.  Her wit, personality and quirkiness kept us glued to the set, salivating with every stir and toss.  So when I heard about the foodie flick Julie and Julia, due out August 8th, I was thrilled to hear that mon amie would be back in the spotlight.  This is based on the true story of blogger Julie Powell who cooked her way through all 524 of Julia’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ recipes in a year, told parallel to Julia’s own culinary journeys.  Thankfully, Meryl Streep plays Julia and fills her (very big) shoes. 

Salade Niçoise
From Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child.




1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 to 2/3 cup basic vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4 new potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed (you can also use seared ahi tuna if you prefer)
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Instructions: Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette. Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and small mounds of tuna at strategic intervals. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each. Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve. Yield: Serves 6 


How a French Sheep Farmer Took Down Old McDonald’s
In the town of Millau in southwest France, a crowd of farmers, activists, union members, men, women and children collectively bulldozed a McDonald’s, loaded the rubble onto trucks and tractors and dumped it outside the town hall.
Led by José Bové, a farmer and activist, he was concerned about how the food sold in McDonald’s is farmed, sourced, and processed. There were community concerns about litter, and the impact of a multinational on local businesses. It was hormone-treated beef that finally sparked the action. Such beef, where the cattle are fed hormones to artificially speed up their growth had been blocked from entering European markets by the EU on health grounds. The construction of a McDonalds nearby, to sell this hormone-treated meat to them in a sesame seed bun with ‘French’ fries was the last straw.

In 1987, he formed the Confédération Paysanne, an agricultural union that places its highest political values on humans and the environment, promoting organic farming.  Bové is currently a member of the European Parliament and continues his ‘agrarian advocacy.’  

It may take a village, but Eating Cleaner starts with one. 


One comment

  1. Thanks for that news about the Julia Child film. I’m currently chasing down her autobiography “My Life in France” in my local bookshops. It’s mainly about her culinary experiences in Paris and Marseilles and was published after her death.

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