| French Fried
French Fried : The Culinary
Capers of an American in Paris,
is the story of one American woman's foray into the fascinating,
complex and often byzantine world of French cuisine.
And when it comes to cuisine,
Harriet's experiences are anything but dull or traditional. When
she first arrived in France, she dined on onion soup with her
concierge. When she finally got a decent apartment with a kitchen
(in which she did not cook), it turned out that there was both
a shower - and a cop - in it.
When she married Frenchman Philippe,
the jig was up. Cooking, she realized, would now be part of her
life whether she liked it or not. Digging in her heels, she graduated
from opening cans of peas to casually knocking out two major
three-course meals a day (about 21,000 meals, her French husband
calculates) in no time at all. Not only that, but she prepares
and eats rabbits, tripe and blood sausage with gusto.
In her book, she gives a picture
of how different life and eating in France really is. Globalization
and standardization may menace the Gallic cuisine but not for
how long if Harriet is around to defend it!
Read the pages of this site :
recipes and tips
on food !
Fried, Harriet Welty Rochefort talks about cultural differences,
not just in regards to what people eat, but in the way they prepare
food and in the way people act when invited out for dinner. There
is a HUGE cultural gap between France and the U.S. on this score
-- at least for the moment.
Two examples :
night in our country place we were invited to the home of friends.
All of us, including the host and hostess, were dressed casually
in our country clothes and it might have been a simple country
meal which would have been fine. It turned out, though, that
our hostess had gone to a lot of trouble for us. Her entrée,
in particular, was stunning: beautifully presented baked oysters
on the half shell in a delicate sauce. A tiny dark green spinach
leaf adorned each oyster shell. Then we had succulent coq
au vin, chicken in wine sauce, and potatoes, the cheese plate,
and a homemade baba au rhum, a sponge caked soaked in
rum. I know that the oysters alone must have taken her hours!
But we had been invited three weeks ahead of the date so she
had plenty of time to think about and devise her menu strategy.
One reaction to this could be: why go to so much trouble? Having
lived in France so long, I've come to understand "where
she's coming from" in the sense that if you invite people,
you want to make it a very special occasion for everyone, one
they will remember with pleasure."
| Harriet's speaking engagements
When the book was published, speaking engagements have
- booksignings in Paris (W.H.Smith's, Brentano's, AARO,
etc...) and Fontainebleau (Reelbooks)
- lectures on Franco-American
cultural differences to Elder-Hostel groups in Paris
- every year, lectures on Franco-American cultural
differences to U.S. university students participating in
the International Media Seminar sponsored by the Center for the
Study of International Communications at the American University
- guest speaker at the Institute
of International Studies at Missouri Southern State College in
Joplin, Missouri (August 28, 2000)
- speaker at conference on "Taste,
Technology and Terroir" at the University of Wisconsin (other
speakers included French anti-Macdonald's hero José
Bové and renowned Chicago chef Charlie Trotter) (September
- luncheon speaker at British
Dental Surgeon's symposium (Saturday, December 2, in Paris)
- more to come
- For upcoming speaking engagements,
One culinary disaster, which wouldn't happen today, occurred
when I decided, in 1976 (pre-hamburger days in France), to have
a casual American party at which the guests would assemble their
own hamburgers. First of all, I had to explain to the baker what
a bun was. He made them especially for me and they were much
better than any bun I have ever had before or since. Then I had
to explain to my French guests (I reiterate: this was pre-McDonalds
and the invasion of American food) that since the buns were there
and the meat was cooked, all they had to do was put the two together
and add catsup, mustard, pickles or whatever they wanted. They
had never done this before and must have thought it was totally
crazy. But being extremely polite, they executed, and stood around
awkwardly nibbling on their hamburgers which they seemed to like
in spite of having to hold them in their hands, constantly watching
to make sure catsup didn't ooze out of them. Even more than the
oddness of the hamburger, the idea of inviting people over only
to make them stand in an assembly line to construct their own
dinner must have seemed strange to them because in France when
you invite, the idea is to spare you guests any work! So much
for being that casual!"
was published by St.
Martin's Press in February 2001 and is available for sale at
all major bookstores in the U.S. and in Paris and on amazon.com,
barnesandnoble.com and borders.com.
January 2002 : French Fried
was translated and published in Chinese !
See my Chinese page.
| Letters from readers
||About the author !
- A review on Amazon.com
by a reader from Denver, CO. USA "Rochefort's
follow-up to "French Toast" focuses on the culinary
differences between America and France, which have led to huge
differences in culture, lifestyle, and waistlines. With a breezy style and
self-deprecating wit, she demystifies what the French cook, how
they cook it, how they eat it, and how it enhances the pleasures
of life. Surely one of the
pleasures in life is relaxing with this book and a nice glass
of red wine. It's been an interesting experience to read this
book (a celebration of good food, good wine, and a high quality
of life) alongside Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation"
(a wonderfully written and thoroughly depressing exploration
of the rise of fast food in the U.S. during the latter half of
the 20th century and its impact on our culture). Rochefort, too,
warns of the encroachment of McDonalds and other American fast-food
enterprises on the French culinary landscape; she notes that
she hopes her observations of French cuisine will not serve as
a memorial of such an inherent part of French culture. Reading
these two books side-by-side guarantees that you will never eat
fast food again. And to make certain of that, Rochefort includes
several tried-and-true French recipes. The ones I've tried have
been simple and delicious!"
- A reader from Paris France writes : "Another tour
de force from the author of French Toast! The flavor of France
is vividly captured and she
makes it easy to understand why so many of us who discovered
this wonderful country have never left it. Tired of ingesting
garbage that calls itself food? You'll never do it again once
you have read French Fried."
- A reader from North Carolina writes : "I
loved the author's self-deprecating humor as she tells the story
of her love of French food and shares the wealth of information
she has gleaned both from living in France for three decades
and from talking with some of the foremost people in France's
food world. After reading what she says about cheese, I can't wait for my next
trip to France to feast on
some "real" Brie. Meanwhile, her tips on what makes
a good cheese plate have been put to use as have her simple but
delicious recipes. After a spate of books from food "experts",
most of whom couldn't mix up a simple green salad, this book
is a gem."
- More to come.....
Harriet Welty Rochefort grew
up in Shenandoah, Iowa and studied in the Midwest where she earned
her B.A. at the University of Michigan and her M.S.J. at the
Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A lifelong
attraction to France led her to visit Paris during college and
in 1971, she hopped on a freighter to Cadiz and ended up in France
once again - this time to stay.
As a freelance journalist in
Paris for the last twenty-five years, she has contributed articles
on French business, lifestyle, travel and culture to many major
U.S. newspapers and magazines including Newsweek,, The International
Herald Tribune, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution,
European Travel and Life, France Discovery Guide,
and Time Magazine, where she worked as a part-time reporter
in the Paris bureau for almost a decade. In addition to writing,
she taught journalism seminars at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques
in Paris from 1992-1997 and since 2006.In addition to French
Fried, Harriet Welty Rochefort wrote a book on the French : visit
the page on French Toast:
The Maddening Mysteries of the French.
- Harriet's first book,
was published by St.Martin's Press in 1999 ; to date, it has
sold more than 80,000 copies.
Fried was her second
- Read her Paris
Thank you for writing
to her !
SCOOP! Do the French deserve their reputation : charm, good food, enjoying their life ? In her book, published in Fall 2012, Harriet Welty Rochefort explains how to wine, dine and romance like the French, and much more. Click here to know more and keep posted!
More on Harriet's site
To pages on other books by Harriet Welty Rochefort : "French Toast", "Joie de Vivre" and "French Toast (in French)"
To related pages : wine or cheese pages, Harriet's Paris
Diary, tips on food, etc...
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Welty Rochefort's books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming
events, testimonials, etc..)
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