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Louisa Chu

Soul Food, France

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Was LCB doing the International Day when you were here? They'd discontinued it by the time I started but I heard the stories. Did you ever have a chance to make any soul food dishes for the chefs? Though I'd imagine with stuffed pig's feet and andouillette they'd find it somewhat familiar. And how has the classic French training influenced your cooking?

What wine do you pair with soul food greens? It seems that the very vegetal nature - as opposed to a lot of French greens which get lost in butter in cream - as well as the vinegar, might be a challenge.

What is your experience like as a female African-American cook and journalist here in France? It seems that it could swing between extremes - more free and respectful as quite a few legendary African-American artists have found it - or more openly racist and chauvinistic.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Hi Lou,

I took one of those brief tourist courses at LCB back in the early 1970s. I am not "trained" in French cooking.

But I have lived and spent a lot of time in France, and I have cooked for many French people, here in NYC and in Paris.

As you say, there are many similarities in French cuisine and soul food. You know, rendering lardons, nothing but pork fat back, to use in stews and one pot dishes such as Coq au Vin; pickling pig feet and coating with aspic; andouille or chitterlin' in a sausage casing topped with a homey mustardy-flavored white sauce. Just like down South.

One of my favorite culinary memories in Paris happened about a dozen years ago. An expatriate friend there, Nancy Holloway, and I went to a restaurant, Josephine (Chez Dumonet) on rue Cherche Midi, for lunch. We split a bottle of champagne and a dish of andouille made with black truffles. We were home sick. We paid a lot of money for that plate of chitterlin'.

As for wines with green, I prefer fruity wines, shy on the acidity. Roses work well, and so do young Rioja wines, as well as some of the fruity and light Sangiovese wines from Italy, or a soft Zinfandel, if it is not too spicy; Merlots from Chile, or a soft white such as Pinot Blanc from Alsace.

I have wonderful memories of Paris; but I was always an "exotic" visitor not an African or brother or sister from Guadeloupe or Martinique looking for a job and permanent housing.

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One of my favorite culinary memories in Paris happened about a dozen years ago.  An expatriate friend there, Nancy Holloway, and I went to a restaurant, Josephine (Chez Dumonet) on rue Cherche Midi, for lunch.  We split a bottle of champagne and a dish of andouille made with black truffles.  We were home sick. We paid a lot of money for that plate of chitterlin'.

:laugh:

Joyce,

Thanks so much for your reply!

The next time you're here I hope we can all get together with my friend Monique Wells - who wrote La Cuisine Noire Américaine/Food for the Soul - inspired by American expats in Paris who wanted a taste of soul food from home - preface by Alain Ducasse himself.

Thanks again!

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