Sweet Tea and Tacos

Whispers of Fall in Every Bite A Culinary Journey

March 25, 2024 Sweet Tea and Tacos
Whispers of Fall in Every Bite A Culinary Journey
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Sweet Tea and Tacos
Whispers of Fall in Every Bite A Culinary Journey
Mar 25, 2024
Sweet Tea and Tacos

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As the leaves turn golden and the air gets crisp, Jeff and I often find ourselves yearning for those hearty dishes that echo the bounty of fall—a sentiment that rings true for many of us as the seasons shift. That's why, on this episode of Sweet Tea and Tacos, we're taking a deep dive into the warm embrace of autumn's comfort foods, joined by our wonderful friends Mellie, Dave, and Jan. Together, we stir up memories of stews, braises, and roasts, and Jeff, with his rich experience in the French culinary scene, paints a vivid picture of how traditional cooking evolves with the changing produce, particularly the arrival of plump mushrooms and crisp apples. Listen in as we explore the cross-cultural influences from the Caribbean to Africa that intricately weave into our local cuisine, and get ready to be tantalized by the fall creation Jeff has up his sleeve—guaranteed to capture the essence of the season.

This cozy conversation doesn't stop at the flavors; it's also about the rhythms of life around the table. We chuckle over the irresistible pull of South Louisiana's local food that once broke a vegetarian vow, and sing praises to the slow-cooked dishes that are worth every second of the wait. The French have a saying, "lunch is king," and we delve into why it holds a place of honor over dinner, and how the cherished 'goûter' keeps the kids happy until then. Mellie and I reflect on the importance of family meals, sharing stories of how we've tailored these beautiful traditions to fit our own bustling lives. So, pour yourself a cup of something hot, and join us for an episode that's not just about food, but the threads that connect our meals to memories, cultures, and the heart of family life.

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Send us a Text Message.

As the leaves turn golden and the air gets crisp, Jeff and I often find ourselves yearning for those hearty dishes that echo the bounty of fall—a sentiment that rings true for many of us as the seasons shift. That's why, on this episode of Sweet Tea and Tacos, we're taking a deep dive into the warm embrace of autumn's comfort foods, joined by our wonderful friends Mellie, Dave, and Jan. Together, we stir up memories of stews, braises, and roasts, and Jeff, with his rich experience in the French culinary scene, paints a vivid picture of how traditional cooking evolves with the changing produce, particularly the arrival of plump mushrooms and crisp apples. Listen in as we explore the cross-cultural influences from the Caribbean to Africa that intricately weave into our local cuisine, and get ready to be tantalized by the fall creation Jeff has up his sleeve—guaranteed to capture the essence of the season.

This cozy conversation doesn't stop at the flavors; it's also about the rhythms of life around the table. We chuckle over the irresistible pull of South Louisiana's local food that once broke a vegetarian vow, and sing praises to the slow-cooked dishes that are worth every second of the wait. The French have a saying, "lunch is king," and we delve into why it holds a place of honor over dinner, and how the cherished 'goûter' keeps the kids happy until then. Mellie and I reflect on the importance of family meals, sharing stories of how we've tailored these beautiful traditions to fit our own bustling lives. So, pour yourself a cup of something hot, and join us for an episode that's not just about food, but the threads that connect our meals to memories, cultures, and the heart of family life.

Support the Show.

Dave:

And welcome to Sweet Tea and Tacos. I'm Dave.

Jen:

And I'm Jan.

Dave:

And we are continuing this week hanging out with Jeff and Mellie and we're all this week. We're going to talk about kind of this time of year and some of our favorite times to cook, isn't it Right?

Jen:

And, as we had referenced in the prior podcast or episode, jeff and Mellie lived in France for a number of years and they loved being there and cooking at this time of year as well, so we're going to kind of do a deep dive in just all things fall and fall food.

Melanie:

Awesome, that makes Jeff smile. Oh, I know.

Dave:

It's just like comfort food. This is a real comfort food season and we, yeah, and like Helen says, our daughter likes to say hot food. So in the south in the summer, you don't always want the hot food.

Melanie:

Right, because it's too hot, that is for sure.

Dave:

And we're big tea drinkers, so we love. It's great to have a nice hot tea hot cocoa. So what are some of the things you guys love to do this time of year?

Jeff:

Oh eat.

Jen:

Yeah.

Jeff:

Yeah, you know, it's funny that when we, when we lived in France, I mean you know, the rhythms are the same. Right, I mean the harvest you know the idea of the harvest and certain things. Abundance. I think, last time I mentioned about the you know just things being so seasonal and it was just certain things that you know. Mushrooms are fall and apples are fall, oh yeah. Yeah, and just all those kind of things that now I mean really for me that's the definition, and so you know pork and you know you grill that in the summer you know, and you might eat it year round, but now, in the fall, you just do things with it.

Jeff:

The first thing I ever cooked learned to cook in France was like a pork and apples dish.

Melanie:

Which we had never paired together. We just hadn't I'm sure people had, but we just had never had those two different tastes in the same dish and it was just like, oh, that was lovely yeah.

Jeff:

So yeah, I mean, I think you know stews and braises and you know roasts and all those kind of things. Just good, hearty you know the kind of food that our grandparents ate because they were out harvesting and then we're not getting out doing that. You know the food that gave you energy and helps you to walk up the mountain or go milk the cows or whatever.

Dave:

Now we're. We've talked about the grocery store and the markets. Was it seasonal, like you mentioned? Were things more seasonal versus? We don't really get the seasonal here as much because it's so much they work to have things a year round Right, but was it more? Seasonal there.

Jeff:

Availability of products there were some things that I mean. There were a lot of things. That was year round. I mean I'm so, you know especially you know beef and pork and chicken poultry. Those were year round. You know the the, you know in the supermarket you could get what you need all the time you could get certain things all the time. But in the, in the markets like the more the kind of farmers markets you would have much was like there would be.

Jeff:

I can remember there was a vendor in the market where we lived that you know when, when the mushroom season would come around he had an entire stall of mushrooms, but you wouldn't see those, you could get the white you know mushrooms all year round at different places, but he would have the sep and these, you know, all these amazing mushrooms, and then of course, like I say, it was more. It was really more about abundance. So at certain times there would just be an abundance. More of it, actually, and so, therefore, that was what people were traditionally, you know, and we were very much about kind of the traditional we wanted to try you know, Not so much high cuisine or the modern, you know right.

Melanie:

Not so much that, because we're not that Because we're not that and there's not enough on the plate. I mean, there's just not substantial.

Dave:

Or what the real people you know.

Melanie:

That's right yeah exactly, and we would say that we want to eat what the French French eat, you know, and that meant whatever people in our neighborhood were eating. But that also meant sometimes we would have like at church, if we had a potluck, there would be something from the Caribbean, because there are Antiné in the church and then there might be some other type of dish from Africa.

Melanie:

And you weren't real sure what it was, but it blended nicely with the other things there. So there's different influences, just like we have here Right, that were also pretty exciting, pretty nice to observe and just see how they blended together. But this time of year we loved warm warmth. Like you said, hot food. It was just whatever. I'll just tell you. This afternoon, when I came into the house, the smell got to me before I got in the door and Jeff's working on something for this weekend so that we can enjoy it and celebrate fall. And won't you tell him about that, Because it was?

Jeff:

lovely. The smell was just so nice, so like. If there are actually any French people listening to this, they'll be horrified.

Melanie:

You will hear back. I mean, I have learned how to adapt.

Jeff:

So in a lot of ways, I mean, there's so many similarities between there and here. I mean, there's regional foods, there's things that are regional, based on the people, so like tacos, where there are those cultures, and, honestly, one of the things that I should have known but discovered in France was we went to a place that there were a lot of Africans living and they had black eyed peas and fried chicken.

Jeff:

And collard greens. They had fried fish. You know, I mean, and I was like wow, no one knew about that and it was delicious, you said. And so there, I mean, there's this word terroir, that's about like just kind of of the ground. You talk about that. You talk about it with wine. You talk about with cheese and how certain cheeses they taste like a place. And the wine you know that it comes from the ground, and so you know the pork and apples was very.

Dave:

Normandy in the West.

Jeff:

And then, but then this, I'm making a kind of a fake cassoulet which is south of France, which is, which again is a stew, I mean, just like anywhere else, that's it's got pork and sausage and white beans and duck, and so again, I'm not doing it, you know, for anybody that's saying I'm not doing the whole deal but just kind of making it up, but so those kind of things. And then in the East and Alsace, which we love, you have by.

Jeff:

Kalfa, which is potatoes and usually pork, beef and lamb or mutton, and it's cooked in this crock for hours. Traditionally, the women would take it to the bakery. It's called back off of the means bake oven, so they would take it to the bakery and as the oven cooled from the morning bread they would be loaded up with these crocs of meat and it's made with the, the reaseling wine that they grow there. Of course you know beef bourguignon is. I mean, that's exactly the same thing. It's just meat cooked in wine, right? Cocoa van chicken cooked in wine. That you have. All those and all those just sing fall with mushrooms and onions, and warmth and we.

Jeff:

there's not a one-up amount of love, for sure.

Melanie:

I don't think you've ever tried anything that you don't, that you didn't embrace or find something good about. I don't think I did either, but Salmon mousse.

Jeff:

Oh yeah, which is not fall, that's not fall. We don't have to talk about that right now, because it was not a pleasant experience.

Melanie:

It was not, but we all had Lulu's along the way. So it was a delight to walk in the kitchen after a hard day at school with the kids.

Jeff:

Not really. It was great.

Melanie:

But for it to smell. The smell is part of it, as well as the memories, that is, that are evoked when you smell that and you associate the smell, with a place and a time and um.

Jeff:

I mean, french cooking is really not that complicated. I mean because it was again the things that we're talking about were developed by wives who were at the house, Working hard everything. And so there's just certain herbs that you just put together, and it makes it taste French, and there's certain things that you do. I know one thing that's very, very difficult to get here, that we loved there and it was everywhere is duck, the duck confit. The confit that you could get, I mean, you buy them at the can at the grocery store.

Jeff:

Already preserved Already there, or the duck, the breast, or the whole duck, or the foie gras for sure. So those kind of things that again for me, even though we would grill duck in the summertime and that felt very summery then when you get into the cassoulet season and the confit canard season and you have that with those garlicky potatoes and that's just oh.

Melanie:

Can't find the word Jeff.

Jeff:

When's the next flight?

Dave:

Well, it's like I was in South Louisiana a couple of weeks ago and it was almost I had to tell Jennifer.

Jeff:

So the vegetarian thing that we've been talking about yeah, that's off the table.

Dave:

as we've been just saying, I'm at the Boudin country, you know. I mean and speaking to, what's funny about cassoulet is there was a lot of places with white beans on the menu.

Melanie:

Really, I liked it in South Louisiana and it was like oh but, that special is not the day I'm here.

Jeff:

No, I mean traditionally, that's an hours upon hours preparation. I mean complicated, but not complicated.

Jen:

Right.

Jeff:

I mean, you know just the different things that go into it and the order that you do it, but then you know when you do it. That's what's amazing the magic of doing it in those ways and then saying wow. This really is good, you kind of get it we have such an habit of hurrying and rushing, and none of these. All of these again, like barbecue, low and slow.

Jen:

Right.

Jeff:

And you can't rush that.

Jen:

Or like red beans rice.

Jeff:

That's right.

Melanie:

You can shortcut it while you're doing the wash.

Dave:

Sometimes we do something like a soup or a stew or whatever. It always seems better the next day.

Melanie:

Oh it even melts. Even more Flavors kind of come together and we've done it.

Dave:

We've like. I'm making soup tonight. We're having something else for dinner. I'm making the soup for tomorrow.

Melanie:

Yeah, I never do it myself, that is true, it never makes it Exactly.

Jeff:

We've done that too, oh wow.

Melanie:

But yes, that makes me hungry, so I'm looking forward to that.

Jen:

So, okay, here's kind of a random question, but what and this could be any time of year, not necessarily just fall, but what would sort of a day in the life look like as far as what y'all would eat?

Melanie:

Okay, that's a great question. That's a good question.

Jeff:

I'm looking forward to a lot of I mean for me. I mean, you know, yogurt for breakfast again. That's just something that was all over the place.

Jen:

A lot of yogurt, and good Kids ate cereal. You knew a lot.

Melanie:

And yogurt and fruit.

Jeff:

But we didn't do a lot of hot breakfast.

Melanie:

No, ours was very like continental breakfast, like you might get when you're visiting in a hotel or something. But we would have now, of course, bread, always, always, baguette, and butter, and butter and real butter. And jam. Oh, their jams are amazingly wonderful and again, that's what my mom made. That's what your mom made. The strawberry jam is strawberry sugar and maybe pectin, but not necessarily.

Jeff:

But in France one thing that's interesting and, again, traditionally right. This is changing and it depends on whether you're in the city or a smaller town, but lunch is really the more significant meal.

Jen:

Yeah, I wondered about that, it is, it is.

Jeff:

And you have longer to eat. Businesses it's not just schools, but businesses take longer at lunch, and so that's kind of the big meal and then dinner is a little bit lighter. Or supper is a lighter meal. And that's something I don't know that we ever adjusted to that.

Melanie:

I think we still do it. We pretty well retained our American traditions of eating together as a family.

Jeff:

Maybe I stopped at the big lunch and kept the big supper. There you go.

Melanie:

But a lot of the families that lived close to us. It was very interesting to me because they would pick the children up from school at 4.30. We went till 4.30 and walked them back. They'd have a snack Every day. You have to have a snack. That's just part of their growing up.

Jen:

It's time.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Melanie:

Kind of like the British when they have tea time.

Jeff:

It is time, it's a similar thing, and then they might have.

Melanie:

The children will have an early supper, early dinner about seven, have their baths and be it tucked in bed. By the time maybe dad comes home from work, and so dad and mom would have their time after the children had already gone to bed. We learned from our neighbors that most all of them did that. That was not the dinner. Evening meal was not the primary meal of the day, especially like on Sunday.

Melanie:

Saturday and Sunday, when the children are home and they're all home together, lunch is going to be your. The noon day meal is more significant, I think, to them, so we would have that light breakfast and that was really good. Children could enjoy their hot chocolate. Sometimes in France children will drink coffee, mostly milk with sugar, but they drink out of bowls.

Melanie:

That's the neatest thing is that we learned that there were these bowls that were for hot coffee in the morning. So not necessarily, but we use them for cereal. But then we discovered you know little ways down the road, bold eggs were always a big thing too for breakfast, because they had these cute little soft boiled eggs. They had these cute little egg cups that were so.

Melanie:

Yeah, no, we don't have to hang out that long, Not really, no, no, we weren't too much for that. But lunch, a typical day of lunch, for kids at the school, this is kind of interesting they would have. They would go to the cafeteria and there would be tables set up like four or five at a table, round table with tablecloths and a glassware and Really, yes, this was weird.

Jen:

So they sat down to a set table.

Melanie:

They did, and then they served each other and the canteen ladies would come and they would bring the food to them, but the children would serve each other water they would serve each other water, there would be a basket of bread on the table and every child was expected to try everything. And then they would have a dessert every time. Now to ask Rachel and Jeff if the food was not great. They were not crazy about it, but I thought it was so interesting that they would have like a formal sit down lunch for kids and they learned how to do it.

Jeff:

No square pizza, no square pizza no square, no french fries, oh corn nuggets.

Jen:

No no no, no, especially they were but for lunch.

Melanie:

for us, if we had meetings with someone, that was a nice time to try maybe a new restaurant or whatever, but our main cooking meal would be in the evening.

Jeff:

We just enjoyed doing that.

Melanie:

And we would have whatever struck our fancy that day, whatever was at the grocery. Food was expensive. I will say that I mean a trip to the grocery store would be very expensive for us as a family of five and trying to be frugal with what we had. But I think that was the creeping up of the recession.

Jeff:

We didn't realize that I'm talking to you though about, like you know, vegetarian, and we've never done that, but you know, kind of the norm was smaller amounts of meat.

Jeff:

Like they tell us to do here, but we don't in the sour. But then there were so many different kinds of vegetables and different ways. It was so much easier to eat vegetables than had been my experience. We do better with that now, but then had been my experience and so that was a unique piece of it for us. And again, I always ate lots of meat, you know, but you would eat less and some of the quality like beef in France is not that great, and so we ate a lot more chicken and pork. That was really good quality but it was expensive and so you would buy less.

Melanie:

And save it for maybe more special occasions. I'm right, right, jeff, I'm trying to remember what were some of the vegetables that were, I mean, like lettuce. Lettuce changed from each from season to season. I mean you could usually always get green lettuce but different kinds of lettuce, like in dives.

Jen:

I didn't know there was anything about iceberg.

Jeff:

Yeah, we've. Yeah, yeah, but in dives and lots of greens, was it?

Melanie:

radicchio.

Jen:

Was it the?

Melanie:

red.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Melanie:

Was that a fall? I think too yeah, it's kind of bitter Cabbage would come in about this time.

Jeff:

You know, asparagus in the spring and all those things in the spring and the peas I could say in peas.

Melanie:

Green peas out the pod.

Jeff:

Oh, my favorite, you know it was just it was easy to get and easy to get fresh and that I think that, honestly, of all the you know I mean a lot of things I learned to do, that may be the biggest change to my kind of overall diet. That happened there Was just getting used to eating more Fresh yeah, fresh, more healthy. You know, I mean we didn't seek out like organic, but things tended to be more that than not, and so that was, you know, seafood I had never, except for fried catfish. I had fried shrimp, that's all I knew. And you know you would go to the market and there would be just dozens of different kinds of fish, that's right and again, and they would.

Jeff:

You would say how do I cook this? And they would tell you. So you know those kind of things, that sort of broaden our horizons, you know, fall, spring, winter, summer, because it changed and we didn't try everything. No, no, there was something, there was always a vendor who sold horse meat which we never tried.

Melanie:

No, we did not try that and I tried to explain to people that there's a reason why French people, if there are still some people who eat horse meat but there's a reason for that and that is it's historical.

Jeff:

There were days that that was all they had, all they had.

Melanie:

And you know, in a lot of the Right after World War II and the resistance and occupation. What's the?

Jeff:

nice word that people use for light, is it awful?

Jen:

Awful, yeah, awful. Kidneys and liver is the light house stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jeff:

And that's you know they, you know they eat a lot of that.

Melanie:

And we never got into that. We didn't really try that much, except for the foie gras.

Jen:

Foie gras. We did Speaking of fall and winter.

Jeff:

That was heavenly.

Jen:

We really did.

Jeff:

But yeah, so I mean that was. That's probably the biggest impact.

Jen:

What is?

Jeff:

Just the different the seasons.

Melanie:

The seasonal change, the vegetables and the freshness and all that and the effect that it had on our family dynamic of you are the cook now.

Jen:

And it's all right. That's all in the story, but it's okay.

Melanie:

I don't embrace that now and I'm very happy I think we're somewhere in our heart, in our nature, cold weather, people Cause like sometimes in the summer we're like, oh, what are we gonna cook?

Jen:

And the winter is like all right we're ready to cook this

Melanie:

And we got like a long list of things we'll never cook at all. But yeah, I think it's fun. It's fun to have a list and a plan, you know, to eventually try them all yeah.

Dave:

Well, cool. Well, thank you for joining us again and talking about fall and more about France and your experiences there For this week. Sweet Teen Tacos. I'm Dave.

Jen:

And I'm Jim and I'll see you guys next week.

Fall Flavors and Comfort Food
French Food and Dining Habits
Seasonal Cooking and Family Dynamic