Continuing on with catching up:
1. The Expatriate Chef tagged me with this "Memoir Meme". It is based on a bet Hemingway made that he could sum up his life in six words.
As it has always been a challenge for me to use fewer rather than more words, I accepted the challenge.
Ten words, was easy; eight possible; but SIX???
Well, I never claimed to be the next Hemingway but here goes: My life in 6 words.
Try everything; it is possible, somehow.
And photo defining it:
It's a bit of a walk to this village from where I took the photo… But there is a lovely church!
Núria, of Spanish Recipes, gave me this lovely award…. Just for being nice (who would have thought – moi? Nice?)
And this one for an Excellent blog:
Muchísimos gracias, guapa! (Is that right? I don't have Spanish spell check)
The Expatriate Chef of The Expatriate's Kitchen also gave me the award for an Excellent Blog.
I am so proud and grateful to be so honored.
And finally (I think), Gattina, of Kitchen Unplugged, gave me this lovely Friendship Forever Ball: I shall treasure this as I treasure all of the friendships I've made through so many wonderful blogs.
I have not finished reading all of my favorite blogs yet, so if I've missed something or someone either be patient or yell at me!
Now, about Moonbeam:
I ate out often on my recent trip. Ironically many of the restaurants were 'French' or at least 'Continental' in theme.
The food ranged from good to excellent.
The service ranged from bad to slightly better than mediocre.
The 'wait staff' in most US restaurants are easily more friendly then their European counterparts. Everyone is met with the invariably chipper "Hi, my name is Breadcrumb, and I'll be your waitperson this evening". (They're also, unfailingly, politically correct.)
The Europeans are easily more professional.
The difference is most obvious in the treatment of the space immediately in front of each diner.
In Europe, that space should either be empty, in front of all diners, or contain a plate, in front of all diners. It's very bad form to remove the plate of one diner while anyone else at the table is still eating. Or contemplating eating. All plates are brought at the same time and removed at the same time.
In the US it appears to be bad form to have a plate in front of any diner that is not actively and voraciously putting food into their mouths.
The plates are often removed one at a time, as soon as each diner shows the least inclination to stop eating, sometimes before. It's almost a race. If you turn your head, your plate is gone; cleaned or not!
I hate it, when, while I am still 'enjoying' my food, the 'waitperson' chirps to my companion "Do you want me to box that up for you?"
I really hate it when, as the waitperson picks up my companions plate, the fork falls off onto my plate… while I'm eating.
The European restaurant staff act more professional because it IS a profession: with entry levels, steps up the ladder and training.
In the US anyone can get a job in a restaurant. (I should know, I worked in several.) There is little or no training in most places. What one learns one learns on the job and from others. To make money one learns quickly.
Yet the 20 (or 25) percent tip is still almost mandatory. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
Lest I offend too many people, I do know that the professionalism of the staff in the higher end restaurants in the US is excellent. I would be curious to know at what price level it suddenly changes….
Now, to the food:
One of the things I always have to stock up on before I go to the US is Herbes de Provence. Mon mari is used to having his food well flavored with herbs but really doesn't have a clue as to what to use when. (Except rosemary for potatoes.)
The solution: Herbes de Provence! This combination of basil, bay, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme is sold in big, inexpensive bags all over France and is a staple in most kitchens. It's used to flavor grilled meats and fish, as well as stews and vegetables.
Very handy when one is not quite certain what herb to use…..
BTW: the sunchoke, aka: Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship whatsoever to either Jerusalem (it's native to the Americas) or the artichoke (it's related to the sunflower). They taste a bit like artichokes; a bit like water chestnuts. I, just this very minute, learned that one does not have to peel them…. Now I like them even better. Just scrub and cook…or eat raw.
Braised Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)
3 – 4 sunchokes
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Peel sunchokes using a vegetable peeler (or not). Cut into sticks about 1/2" (1cm) square. Put into a small skillet or medium saucepan. Add stock and herbs, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and partially uncover. Simmer until tender and most of the stock is gone, 15 – 20 minutes. Remove, drain if necessary and serve.
Well, I learned something new – my day is complete!
Don't forget to visit Morsels and Musings on Monday for the complete recap!
A question: Does everyone in the U.S. automatically tip 20%, regardless of the type of restaurant and caliber of service? Do you tip that much on the wine as well?
For those who travel to Europe: Are you aware that the tip is usually included? Anything extra is totally voluntary. Here is a good guide Tipping in Europe.