I thought preparing meals without an oven would be a challenge. At home, many of our meals involve both our oven and our counter top convection oven. I roast vegetables, especially peppers, on an almost daily basis.
But we also do stir fry a lot, so I figured we'd be OK. I like to experiment with salads, so I knew we could always do the salad and baguette approach.
What I was not prepared for was how much a difference it makes to have really good and fresh ingredients.
Academically, I knew this of course. Meals I make during farm market season are always better than meals made with store-bought produce.
But French produce has an edge. A taste edge. Tomatoes have a bit more bite and peppers have, well, more peppery taste. I knew this already from previous shopping trips in France. But my taste buds had forgotten.
One of the first things we did was look for sausage. The first time I asked for saucission, which yielded some wonderful salami from Davoli Maison de Jambom. It was fabulous on a sandwich and equally delightful in a salad.
But it wasn't what I wanted so I tucked it into the little wheeled cart (hell going over those cobblestone) and tried again. This time I found chair de sausage, which is freshy ground sausage. We'd tasted this in Cahors a few years back and found it some much better than the Italian sausage we buy at home (and that is pretty good).
My husband asked for two kilograms, which as it turns out is enough to feed the entire 7th arrondissement, so we ate a lot of sausage-based meals. One of our favorites was a simple dish of sausages and peppers, with a bit of onion and garlic. Brown the sausage with garlic and a bit of olive oil, set it aside, and saute the peppers with onions. Combine all the ingredients and allow the flavors to marry over low heat. Serve with a fresh baguette and unsalted butter. We paired it with a light and fruity rose wine from Provence.
In France, I made do with one large skillet, two or three sauce pans, a souffle dish, one bread knife and some wooden spoons and spatulas. As a result, I am paring down my kitchen a bit, giving a set of mixing bowls and a few other odds and end to the Relay for Life rummage sale my dean sponsors every year.
Have you ever made do with only a few utensils? What did you make? How did you like it? Did roughing it change the way you prepared food in your own kitchen?