Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 4th - again, but a bit diffrerent

I've been reading other expat's blogs about doing 4th of July celebrations so I guess I should mention what we did this year.
Most people seem to try to do 'American' cooking; key lime pie, chocolate cake, ribs, BBQ & the like. The French seem to appreciate it, but it gets a bit boring after a while. There's a write up somewhere here in this blog about what our friends did in past years. Burgers, hot dogs (not appreciated.) & so forth. In that case the locals didn't quite get it about what the 4th was so it ended up being the D-day party.
Anyway, this year I decided that a more challenging meal and very Californian (I did grow up there) would be to do a Mexican meal. The challenge was to get the ingredients; cooking the meal was relatively easy. This was new territory for our French friends as well as most of our other friends. We were only 14 people so the crowd was smaller than usual. Of those only 4 of us were Americans; the rest a mix of Brits & French.
We started with a cold melon soup. This from a Mexican recipe in Diana Kennedy's book. Very good it was & very easy to make. Fortunately, nice sweet melons are in full season now and they substituted nicely for the Cantaloupes called for. The rest (Potatoes, milk and eggs) was easily found.
This was followed by guacamole with salad on the side. The salad was from Mary's garden picked that morning so was fresh & delicious. The avocados were easy, I just had to buy in advance so they could ripen up. Making up the herb mixture only required a bit of tweaking. (cumin, coriander, paprika, mace, oregano, S&P. All dried) to get right, but was Ok. Fortunately I have a good market source of fresh cilantro and was lucky enough to find some nice hot little red chilies. (don't know the variety). The rest was easy. AND! Our local Casino store is actually stocking Tortilla chips. Whoopee! It was a very good guacamole if I do say so myself.
Next we did do- it-yourself tostadas. Most of the toppings were easy. We used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream which I cannot find in France. I made my own salsa. Shredded cheese is easy to get if you are OK with Emmental. Tomatoes & lettuce are easy. I made my own refried beans from red beans that I'd cooked the night before. We decided to make these beef as opposed to chicken or pork tostadas so I fried up good quality ground beef with onion & green pepper plus pretty much the same herb mix you'd use for Chile. It worked well. Some searching allowed us to come up with pre-made flour tortillas. These turned out OK although I would have preferred a larger diameter.
We demonstrated how to fry a tortilla then smear it with refried beans, a topping of the beef then down the line with tomatoes, lettuce, yogurt, cheese & lots of salsa. Everyone had fun doing it and the tostadas were not bad at all. The refried beans I think caused the most comment as they were good & nobody other than the Yanks had had them before.
We finished off with fried bananas & ice cream which while not too Mexican went well with the scheme of things.
All in all a fun meal. I do think, however, that we may have confused some of our French guests. They now think Mexican food is typical American food. That's OK as in some ways it is in the same sense as are the European dished that we've made our own.
I'll have to start thinking about something new for next year. In the meantime this Sunday evening we're going to our local village repas to celebrate July 14th. The French independence day. Alway a good do with some fireworks afterwards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Yank, I am enjoying your blog very much and am excited to read interesting and funny stuff about Parisot and the surrounding area. Both Cary & I live between the UK and Parisot (Mas de Bottes). I love your enthusiasm for the area, the people and it's fare. I'll try and add some tasty recipes of my own.