Bestseller cookbook author Trish Deseine on French food and her new book “The Paris Gourmet”
French in Ireland and Irish in France, Trish Deseine has become one of France’s top food writers having sold over one million cookbooks and presented cooking programs broadcast by RTE and BBC’s Good Food Channel. Having lived in France for more than 20 years, she was featured in the French Vogue’s ’40 Women of the Decade’ in 2009.
Known for her simple and generous recipes, Trish’s food philosophy differs from the French chef’s fixation with doing things “the right way”. Food should be simple, delicious and adaptable – each recipe a delicious opportunity to offer yourself something exquisite without too much effort, she says.
In “The Paris Gourmet”, her latest book due in September, she serves up a definitive guide on how to shop, cook, eat and live like the French. Covering everything from selecting the produce at the market and hosting a great cocktail party to creating an authentic Parisian ambience in the dining room and being the perfect guest, “The Paris Gourmet” is a glimpse of France’s fabulous edible heritage.
So let’s all have a seat in Trish’s “little kitchen” for a few tips and a treat.
You have had a long-running relationship with food. What triggered this love affair, how did it all begin?
As a child I loved baking and as my parents entertained I would usually make desserts for their guests. Coming to France at 14 was a revelation and I was determined to come live here. Not only because of the food, of course, but I loved how important family gatherings and all socializing around a table was important to the French.
Originally from Ireland, you have been living in Paris for more than 20 years. How did you choose Paris and do you sometimes miss eating a good old Irish shepherd’s pie?
Paris chose me! I was helpless. You can find every food in the world in Paris, and if you’re missing one vital ingredient there’s always the Internet, so food nostalgia is no longer much of an issue for me.
French cuisine has been recently honored on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. What is so special about this “rare species” in your opinion?
The UNESCO listing is very specifically for “Le repas gastronomique” with an order to the courses and a way of serving them at a formal occasion. I think they are right and justified to register this very French tradition for posterity.
Besides being an insatiably curious cook you are also a renowned cookbook author. Could you tell us a bit more about “The Paris Gourmet”, your latest book coming out in September?
It’s a notebook of my favourite foodie addresses, restaurants, markets and food shops peppered with little tips about decoding Parisian eating. It’s written mostly with American and British visitors in mind, even those who dream of coming one day but who may never make it.
What is your favourite French dish, dessert, snack?
A St Honoré’s choux pastry, chantilly cream and caramel. Three of my favourite things.
Your hidden gastronomic gem in Paris?
Nowadays nothing stays hidden for long! But when something is good, the Parisians will keep coming. Recently I tried Gilles Verot’s (the world famous pork butcher/caterer) Quenelles de Brochet aux écrevisses and I’m going to have to go back for more pretty sharpish.
If in Paris, one should definitely try…?
Anything from Pierre Hermé.
The strangest food you’ve ever eaten in Paris?
People often make dishes from my cookbooks for me. I still find this a very strange and at times nerve-wracking experience.
Your best place for a “café gourmand” pause would be…?
I love the garden at the Mandarin Oriental – not particularly Parisian feeling, but so peaceful and cozy.
What is your most astounding Parisian culinary discovery?
A rediscovery, really. I recently had lunch at l’Arpege, not having been there for years. Alain Passard is a true aubergiste (inn-keeper), always in his kitchen, the precision and simplicity of his cooking are simply breathtaking.
Drink to the summer with Trish Deseine’s sparkly cassis-inspired aperitif!
6 dessert spoons of crème de cassis liquor
6 dessert spoons of dry Vermouth
6 dessert spoons of orange juice
a dash of fresh lemon juice
6 dessert spoons of chilled champagne
In a shaker, add the crème de cassis, the vermouth, one dash of lemon juice, the grapefruit zest and some ice and shake well.
Pour the mixture without the ice cubes in a flute glass.
Top with the champagne to fill the glass completely.
Tips: Add frozen berries that will serve as little colored cubes and will bring an extra touch of freshness. Replace dry vermouth with gin.