From what I've seen from the way French people cook and from what I learned in French culinary school, the French either torture the hell out of their ingredients (one day I'll tell you about the tournage week in culinary school) or they just let them be, pure and simple.
Of course, it is this second approach that I like best, and that makes me feel most French on days like today when I have great ingredients but not much else.
So yesterday I strolled the Union Square Greenmarket with Gluten Free Girl and The Chef (what a complete pleasure it was to meet Shauna and Daniel, finally) and bought ten absolutely perfect Seckel pears. And some blooming mint. And pea blossoms. Pea blossoms aren't exactly a classic pear pairing but they went into the salad because they were pink and purple and that, in all honesty, is really all my daughter cares about, and I wanted to make her happy.warm honey and lemon juice to barely tenderize the fruit then tossed the mint blossoms and pea blossoms in, and voila, I felt kind of like the French mother of a French preschooler.
It wasn't the recipe, technique or particular ingredients that made it sort of French. It was the attitude behind it: easy, colorful, fresh and happy. Those are the qualities of French cooking that have always spoken most to me, not the tournage.
• Related: Faith, lucky lady, was in France last week and put together this Kitchen Tour from Paris. Check it out: Kitchen Tour: Paule Caillat's Splendid Paris Kitchen