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Nov 6, 2010 11:12 AM

What a Frenchman wants to eat abroad [moved from France]

I don't know where to find a food oriented French audience other than here, so here goes. Because of time restraints, a French friend will be coming for a mid-day meal. I suggested that we could enjoy a "French Sunday lunch" and she countered that I should not do anything complicated.

What would you French readers want to eat in a San Francisco home at this time of year. (Crab is not yet in season.)

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  1. O do something American.
    Do a nice juicy meatloaf. half veal half pork. Gobs of sour cream and egg.
    Or barbecue ribs.
    Those are my French friends' fave American dishes.

    7 Replies
      1. re: jock

        Ribs for sure, but Sand Dabs and Abalone were also a big hit. Tex-Mex fare was not appreciated.

        1. re: Oakglen

          LOL. I buy my meatloaf ready-to-bake at bryan's, a local butcher shop! But I suppose one needn't tell. Ribs are too messy for indoor eating. I thought about Cal-Mex, but I think you're right. I seem to remember some comment like "ooh, ooh, I don't like too spicy" when the subject last came up. I can't/won/t afford abalone but local Petrale is a thought. Grilled calamari? Salmon? Meyer Lemon...

          I'm grasping for something local. I saw a very simple recipe the other day for lightly steamed salmon served in a coconut milk/lemongrass broth. This combines local product with Pacific Rim tastes...

          1. re: mangeur

            One vote for the salmon -- and if she doesn't like it, let me know. Sounds amazing.

            Tex Mex isn't off-limits -- just know that Old El Paso is considered quality Tex-Mex in France (shudder) keep it fairly mild and middle of the road. Something like a mild mole sauce might be interesting for her, too.

            Another flavor that a huge number of my European friends adore is Buffalo wings -- go for a mild recipe, but there's something about it that sends people's eyes rolling back in their heads. (Even when I was working in the States, when a European supplier or customer would come to visit, we'd bring in Buffalo chicken sandwiches for lunch, and there wasn't ever one left over for anyone else.)

            1. re: sunshine842

              I've seen hardened and cynical Gauloise smoking Communists/existentialists/situationists moved to tears by American style cheesecake.

              Never fails.

              1. re: vielleanglaise

                Yikes! I haven't made a cheesecake in 30 years! The idea almost brings ME to tears.

                Can you describe what you consider American style?

                Graham cracker crust:

                Pastry crust:,1713,...

                Sour cream topped:,193,1...

                1. re: mangeur

                  My mother's:

                  Mash Graham Crackers up in a food processor. Add and mix in melted butter. Press into springform mould. Cook at 200' c for 5 minutes. Put in the freezer.

                  Mix six eggs with 150 grams of sugar and some vanilla (sugar, or extract, or grains). Add 750 grams of full fat cream cheese. Mix. Pour over graham cracker mix.

                  Cook in 180' oven for about 40 minutes, or unitl cracks form on the surface. Some people like it very firm. I like it so it's like it more wobbly and cook accordingly. When 5 minutes from being done (sorry about the flaky instructions) remove from oven, leaving oven on.

                  Pour about half a cm of sour cream on top. Put back in oven and cook for 5 minutes.

                  Chill. Serve.

    1. Unless they are "veggies," a good steak from a corn fed steer is always a big hit.

      1. I'm loving these ideas. But what I really find fascinating is the realization that we really don't eat "American" in the Bay Area. Or at least "we" don't. I'm going to have to put on my Uncle San hat and fake it.

        1 Reply
        1. I'd like to suggest a side dish of "onion loaf" - easier to make than onion rings, a bit less fattening, and yummy if done right. Our French friends love it... And I second the cheesecake : "NY style." You could honor the request for "nothing complicated" by serving burgers, and then force your friend to eat it like an American: as a sandwich and not with a knife & fork.

          3 Replies
          1. re: boredough

            Another tried&true American side dish: garlic bread !

            1. re: boredough

              What is onion loaf? I googled a few recipes but they were for deep fried onions that were then pressed into a pan and baked.

              1. re: Pia

                Sorry I just saw this ...Basically that's what it is - Tony Roma's Onion Ring Loaf Recipe (probably one of the ones you found) is what I follow.

            2. When we visit an area, I have in mind some concept of the place, style of life, local products and specialties, then we try to seek them out. I am attributing this thinking to our guest. So, I am trying to give her a sense of Northern California, how we live, how we eat, local produce, This is far from her first trip to America and I have the feeling that she eats rather lightly, which works beautifully with our NorCal lifestyle.

              I am fishing for those things that you think of when you think of as typically Northern California or San Francisco. It is difficult to anticipate how others see us since we are really a melting pot. At home and at restaurants, we eat Italian, French, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Viet, Japanese, African, Middle Eastern and....

              1 Reply
              1. re: mangeur

                My first thoughts were focused on the grill, something like prime quality hamburgers, grilled onions, cheese or not, great hamburger buns. You could make them sliders or cut in half to serve. Corn on the cob (getting harder to find, but still possible depending on when you are doing this), simple green salad with lovely greens. Anchor steam beer, crystal geyser sparkling water, a California zinfandel (it is possible to find some under 14% alcohol).

                Thinking about the salad led to my next thought: a salad as the main course - perhaps a variation of a cobb or a caesar with great local ingredients? Or an SF version of a Nicoise - grilled salmon or some type of tuna, great local eggs, local green beans, baby yukons, some cherry tomatoes are still pretty good (sungold particularly), along with your favorite local bread, a California rose. Voila. Then there would be room for cheesecake. Of course there is also no shame in buying a dessert from a great local bakery, cheesecake, big cookie, cupcakes, brownies...

                Or even the local specialty: It's-It (A San Francisco Experience Since 1928). :).