Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Multi-cultural Omnivore (or why Pollan is wrong)

One summer in the U.S. my youngest daughter was taken to the petting area at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The petting area is a place at the zoo where small children can touch and hold farm animals - a real treat for city children who may have never seen, much less touched, a chicken, a goat or a rabbit.

According to my daughter when she entered the pen she was greeted by a zoo volunteer who leaned over and asked her, “ So, do you like rabbits, little girl?”

To which my daughter replied, “Yes, my mother serves them with mustard.”

Moral of the story is something you pet in Seattle is something you put in the pot in Paris.

So how does a bi-cultural family (one with at least two food traditions), resolve what Michael Pollan calls The Omnivore’s Dilemma? Or to put it another way, with so many delicious possibilities, how to choose what to eat?

This may be heresy to Mr. Pollan but I honestly think that you can do better by combining traditions.

Standard French food is lovely but home cooked American food from a generation or so back is also quite good. Thinking about my great-grandmother’s buttermilk pancakes, my mother’s baking powder biscuits and my step-father’s fried chicken makes my mouth water.

So what might a Franco-American meal look like? Well, as an example, how about what we had for dinner on Sunday night?

Whole rabbit cut up, slathered with dijon mustard, wrapped in foil with a bay leaf and cooked in the oven for about an hour
Whole wheat buttermilk biscuits with butter and honey from the market
Big green salad with homemade vinaigrette
And because it was Sunday (chocolate night at the Franco-American flophouse) a small chocolate cake from a local bakery.

There now, that wasn’t all that hard, was it?