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Oct 10, 2001 04:01 AM

Can the French cook Italian?

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In a word, no. Their pizzas are drowning in cheese (the first recipe probably said 'here is an excellent recipe for using up your surplus cheese') and the risotto is risotto rice cooked separately and mixed with a sauce at the end.

Stick to roasting chickens in pigs bladders!

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  1. I hope you are just being deliberately silly...anyone can cook anything if they are taught techniques and can follow a recipe - or even if they can imitate someone...let's say you are American; does this mean you can only cook, I don't know, hamburgers or hotdogs? There are plenty of Italians in French kitchens - so why not the reverse?

    10 Replies
    1. re: magnolia

      I'm talking about dishes from Italy prepared in the French way in French restaurants- not where the staff of the restaurants are from

      1. re: After Bunny

        Go to Nice where italian and French influences combine to create a specific cuisine. Try their take on Gnochi,pasta,Socca ( a pancake made of chic pea flour ), Daube, countless fish dishes, lemon tart and Gellati all of which display a mingling of influences. It is truly a destination worthy of any Hound.

        1. re: Phil Laurie

          As much as I like Nicois food, I never acquired a taste for socca. But you didn't mention the delicious torte blette and other Nicois sweets... [smiling at the memory]

          1. re: Pan

            I was in Nice when I posted the original message. I had just had a pizza which disappointed me in the quantity of cheese it was weighed under. I had seen the well risen balls of dough waiting to be made into pizzas and was hoping for a nice effort. I tried socca and stuffed vegetables as well. The socca is OK but honestly nothing special.

            I first had pizza in France in Dijon, where it was easily more than 50% of the pizza, it was like it was a cheese dish. Subsequently the only place in France that I have had a pizza where cheese is just one element rather than the prima donna was at Santa Lucia in Paris.

            1. re: After Bunny

              I agree French Pizza is never the sum of its parts, a it of a sweeping statement perhaps but one that reflects my experience.

              As to socca, it does depend on frashness, i.e. it must be made seconds before you buy it, many places don't do this. Also pepper and a cold glass of Cotes de Provence Rose are essential.

              Did you get to Fennochios Ice Cream Stall in the Old City ? I hope you did, its a blast.

              1. re: Phil Laurie

                Fennochios is fine but I prefer ice cream a little bit softer. Il Gelato Pardiso in Bregenz (Lake Constance) is the best I have ever had. I recommend it to everyone

              2. re: After Bunny

                Maybe you should consider not comparing cuisines, for one, and you may be a whole lot less disappointed.

                When in France, you eat as the locals do. If they enjoy
                alot of cheese on their pizza, so be it. It doesn't make any sence to compare it to a pizza made any where else, esp. Italy. It's a "French pizza". Even in Nice.

                When I was in Nice, not long ago, I never even once considered the thought of shifting my desires for an Italian-style pizza over the great foods that they offered there. It's Nice! The socca rocks, the rose's are wonderful, it's a eating extravaganza from the get-go for any food hound.

                I sincerely hope your next experinece abroad is better!

                1. re: After Bunny

                  I don't remember having much pizza during my two summers in Nice, but I had a lot of good pasta, a lot of good soupe de poisson and other nicois and provencal dishes, and there was a good crepe place in Vieux Nice (warning: this was 8-9 years ago). I also had very good Tunisian and Vietnamese food, and excellent things from boulangeries.

                  Before you go back to Nice, you might want to recheck the international board for recommendations people who've been there recently have posted.

            2. re: After Bunny
              Brandon Nelson

              Different styles...

              French style risotto is purposely different from the Italian approach. In italian versions the rice is the star, and the aditons are there to showcase the rice. French style risotto uses the rice as a vehicle for other flavors. They are purposefully different.

              As to your general question, I believe anyone can cook any cuisine. It is simply a matter of study and experience. I'm sure that many French can , and do cook a more Italian styled pizza, risotto, or whatever it is they might be craving.


              1. re: After Bunny

                So if they prepare things in a Nicois way in Nice by Nicois cooks, does that count?

            3. If you consider the Provencal people French (which they certainly are, by citizenship), they can cook Italian food very well. I spent two summers in Nice and enjoyed Nicois renditions of spaghetti bolognese et al. very much indeed. Mind you, that was after a previous summer in Italy, including 35 days in Siena.

              1. I dunno. I had a truly memorable Italian meal in Troyes some years ago. Wood-fired pizza, lasagna. It was great Italian in the heart of France-- though i can't remember if the cooks were French or Italian. Hard to go wrong with the kind of raw materials they have in that area.

                1. I think so. I'm Italian, having grown up in an Italian neighborhhod in Brooklyn and in over 50+ years I've consumed more Italian food than a show dog could jump over. The best Italian food I've ever had was a pasta dish called Fruit de Mer in an Italian restaurant in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb of Paris.

                  1. Well, maybe, but certainly not Alain Ducasse! When we ate there for my birthday this year, one of the entrees came the absolute worst "pasta" I've ever had: pasty, doughy, undercooked, and with a bizarre "lemon" sauce that did nothing to improve the dish. My husband said, "The French, they should not attempt pasta."