In seventh grade, we had the choice to start taking Spanish or French in school.
I very adamantly insisted on taking French. I remember thinking it was such a beautiful, exotic language. I thought it was the language of love. It was the country of butter and croissants and pastries and delicious things galore. It seemed exciting and romantic in a gorgeous way that, at the time, I didn’t find Spanish.
I don’t think my parents were thrilled – Spanish is so much more practical in our country – but when a kid is excited about learning a new language, who’s going to stop them?
I ending up sticking with French up until my junior year in high school. When I graduated, I could absolutely hold a formal conversation with someone in the language.
In college and beyond I became interested in wine, which – of course – included those of the French varietals. I was thankful I had the background to understand a little extra from the labels.
And now, as the wife of a chef, I have found so much happiness in baking. Recently, I even tried my hand at what looked like a relatively simple recipe for Four Hour Baguettes. Because who doesn’t love a hot, soft loaf of bread with dinner?
Continuing with my “Music To Cook To” series, I thought I’d not only share the recipe for this delicious bread – that I made while throwing together strawberry tarts for the Coleman lunch last month – but I’d also share a few chansons that inspire me to keep exploring the rich French culture.
So if you also have four hours in between tarts, head over to food52 and give this recipe a try.
And if you’d like to listen to my entire playlist, you can hear Music to Cook To: French Cafe here on Spotify.First, we must start with the infamous Edith Piaf. Probably France’s most beloved singer, there’s just something about her vibrato and the emotion in her voice that absolutely pulls you in. She typically chose chansons that had tragic story lines, but I love “Milord”, which has a little bit more of a rousing tendency. International star Bridgette Bardot. I just love this song, with its cheery handclaps and her talk-like singing. Doesn’t it just make you want to dance around? This song is an absolute classic, but when I heard this version over on Kitchen Vignettes, I immediately went on a hunt for Andre Touissant‘s. I feel like I could sit in a smoky, dark bar all night listening to songs just like this one. Because it is terrible that so many people only know Eartha Kitt as the original “Santa Baby” singer, and because this version of “Je Cherche Un Homme” and her version of “C’est Si Bon” are sexy, exotic and kind of slinky. Eartha Kitt rules. Probably my favorite chanson – I even sang it in college in my voice lessons. Madeleine Peyroux has the perfect voice for French chansons, emotional, fluid, and lovely. Also listen to “Dance Me to The End of Love“. This song is on our playlist at work, so I don’t listen to it at home that often, but it’s just a beautiful song that I had to include. Melody Gardot has an inspiring story and a gorgeous, velvety smooth voice. Listen to all of her stuff.
Although every day I’m in the kitchen at work I think how I could have definitely benefitted from learning a little Spanish, I still think all of those romantic, exotic things about the language of France. And one day I will sit with my love at a French cafe, sipping red wine and eating pastries, and it will make all of my seventh grade dreams come true.