Mimi's Médoc life and autumn recipes

Instagram sensation and author Mimi Thorisson talks about her love for Médoc life and presents some classic autumn recipes

For some reason a lot of people seem to be unclear about exactly what French food is. While they seem pretty certain (though are not always correct) about, say, Chinese food, Indian food and Italian food, French food seems to remain a mystery. Many are familiar with the clichés, like escargots and frogs’ legs, oysters and onion soup, but they don’t always know what makes a dish French. How is a steak French, for example? What do you have to do to it to make it so? And French fries, aren’t they sort of American by now? Maybe a recipe is French if you put enough butter and cream into it, and wine? Maybe it’s all about the sauce?

France is a country with many regions, and though its cuisine is not as localised as in Italy, where the country wasn’t really united until quite recently, France has some strong regional specialities that make this question even harder to answer. In some ways you could say that Paris has played a key part in what the world sees as French cuisine. Historically, if someone tasted something delicious somewhere in France, the king and his court would probably want to have it. Someone would always, in the end, bring the recipe to the capital – and then others would want to try it, too.

Of course, there have been outside influences, too, like couscous from North Africa and oranges from Spain. And we aren’t immune to fads: nouvelle cuisine in the 1980s introduced inventive pairings and teeny tiny portions that would never have been a match for the appetites of old.

To me, French food is what I like from the whole country, and though living in one (rather remote) region emphasises certain things, like game and oysters and grilling over grapevine branches, I like to include recipes from all of France in my cooking. There is just so much good food, so many good techniques and traditions, and I never want to miss out on any of them.

And so ...

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