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russ parsons

Astride two worlds-embracing tradition and modern

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Hiya Paula,

One of the things I've always admired most about your work is how you seem to be equally at home in the ancient and the very modern. "Southwest France" is probably the most extreme example (well, maybe "World of ..."). In this book there are the "usual" traditional recipes, but there are a lot of quite modern ones as well, from chefs such as Michel Bras (to say nothing of your equal and unnatural affections for both clay pots and FoodSavers).

I think for a lot of people, the knee-jerk reaction would be that these are two entirely different worlds, but you seem to see them as a continuum. Expand and explain.

yr pal,


Edited by snowangel (log)

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Hi Russ,

What a great question [as they say!]

Ok, I definitely do see a continuum but my emphasis is on the traditional.

Still I don't feel I can ignore the modern contributions of some of the brilliant chefs such as Michel Bras who use traditional ingedients of their regions (in his case, the Auvergne), in new and startlingly fascinating ways.

As you know, I'm very selective. There're lots of new chef's dishes being served in SWF, but only a few interest me. I still prefer a connection to the traditional woman's cooking, which I think of as "the base."

I feel that important technical breakthroughs such as sous vide cannot be ignored and I present a few recipes where I think the idea works well. The duck confit for cassoulet is a perfect example because the chunks of boned duck are baked for a

second long cooking and remain flavorful and moist.

But in the end it's the home cooking tradition that I love, which led me to chefs such as Lucien Vanel (my absolute favorite!) who raised his mother's cooking at an incredible level. I can see why some would be troubled by my combination of old and new dishes, but, to paraphrase DeGaulle (who said of his enemy, Sartre: "Sartre too is France"), these new dishes too are of the South-West.

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