Being a baker, braising wasn’t something I did a lot of. I also didn’t cook a lot of meat or poultry. Actually, I didn’t cook much at home as I ate most of my meals on the fly when working in restaurants. (I was also going to say that when I lived in California, I tended to grill as much as I could on my patio but someone sent me a rather pointed message to stop talking about living in California…so I guess I should work on that.) It wasn’t until I came to France, which has a plethora of butchers and volaillers (poultry sellers), that I started branching out from my usual fall-back meals from when I was a professional baker and line cook in San Francisco (if that woman is reading this…sorry!), which included chips & salsa, bbq from Flint’s in Oakland, or a burger at The Smokehouse.

Another thing that happened when I no longer had to work in the evening was that I began to have people over for dinner. But I’ve learned in France not to make something that needs to be served at a precise time. That’s because it’s considered impolite to arrive on time. If you do, you’ll surprise your hosts which I did recently when I was invited to someone’s place for dinner who I didn’t know. I arrived 15 minutes after the time I was told, and I was the only one there, except for the host, who was surprised to see my standing in his doorway. And it was a somewhat uncomfortable twenty minutes I spent making small talk, and watching him put the last-minute preparations on things while I just stood there like a dope. Oops.

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