Sunday, June 17, 2007
La Verrine (and why French women really don't get fat)
I recently read an online article about a French fad of eating food in layered glasses called verrines. For some reason the idea of eating a salad, or other types of savoury food in a glass seems disgusting to me; however one of my trademark easy desserts is apparently a verrine.
The article made me laugh as I remembered how much the French love to make a fuss over every little thing and exclaim!!! a lot. One doesn’t find a fresh, firm, unmarked and fragrant peach at the market and put it in the basket, uncelebrated. It is very important to lift the peach high in the air and utter the latest cool exclamatory expression, followed by a host of others, each with the basic meaning ‘Fantastic!’. The first time I saw a woman doing this, I thought she was, well, a bit simple, but then I noticed all the chic women doing it and that it was de rigeur.
At the boulangerie under my parent’s apartment in Paris, Madame would not serve you if you did not exclaim loudly upon entry ‘Bonjour Madame! How are you today? You look wonderful! Isn’t the weather incredible! How is your beautiful dog?’ My sister, who is quite shy and doesn’t like have to perform like this, was always served last in that shop.
All of this exclaiming can make food shopping in France a very exhausting process. That’s why, I suspect, French women don’t get fat, they expend so much energy exclaiming over their shopping.
My ‘verrine’ is very simple, Middle East in influence and relies on good quality ingredients, particularly yoghurt.
It is very simple and you can even eat it if you have had a heavy main. It is high on flavour but not bulk.
Take one glass per person and fill to 1/4 full with the fruit of your choice - plums roasted with vanilla sugar and cinnamon until they are slightly caramelised, frozen berries slightly defrosted, perhaps drizzled with a little white chocolate or the simplest mango puree (a $10 box of mangoes from Footscray market purchased during the summer, and cut up and frozen, means the current favourite is a mango verrine.)
Top this layer with an equal amount of very good yoghurt.
Drizzle this with honey, a sprinkle or rose or orange flower water and some crushed pistachio nuts.