A homemade taste of France: Croque Monsieur

A week ago I decided it would be a good idea to try and make a representative dish from each of the stops we made on our honeymoon a year ago on my day off. Last week I made a meal of tapas to kick off the start of this culinary trip down memory lane. This week a year ago we were in Marseille, France.

There was one thing Mrs. Primate wanted to eat while we were in France, and it was surprisingly difficult to get our hands on due to the French method of dining. It was always on the menu, but never seemed to be available when we wanted to eat. It’s not anything too fancy, but it’s what we wanted. This led to a bit of frustration as we searched and searched for a place that had an open kitchen, and additionally, wouldn’t refuse to make one. The croque monsieur, was our metaphorical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Vieux Port, #marseille #france #picstitch

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On our last evening in Marseille, we visited a small bakery where we had purchased some macarons a few days earlier and the very nice, very friendly baker had two Croque Monsieur sandwiches in her case. She graciously heated them up for us and wrapped them in wax paper, and we took them to the old port, sat down, and had a little picnic next to the boats gently bobbing in the water, in the shadow of the citadel and Nôtre Dame de la Garde basilica on the hill across the harbor. It was sublime. It was the perfect moment from Marseille to recreate with a meal.

After scouring pinterest for a recipe, I decided on a basic Croque Monsieur recipe I found that looked easy enough to accomplish and a “ratatouille” made in the style of Disney’s movie about the culinary rat. Hey, we needed vegetables and this looked pretty, even if it isn’t so authentic. Four ham and cheese sandwiches, one pot of bechamel, and a few chopped vegetables later, dinner was served, and you know what? It took me right back to the old port of Marseille for a few minutes.

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Foods of (Marseille) France

Marseille was a delicious stop on our honeymoon, but not one without its frustrations. As it turns out, the French are quite picky about what time they’ll serve which foods, if anything at all. After an overnight bus ride of fairly epic discomfort you just wanna nom, ya know?

Well, minor difficulties aside, the food was delicious and we really enjoyed sitting outside at the little brasseries lining the old port of Marseille. I had a lot of deliciousness: boulliabase, profiteroles aux foie gras, macarons, soupe de poisson, blah blah blah. My favorite was perhaps the most simple and juvenile option, a plain old croque monsieur.

I hope you’ll enjoy this little display of food pr0n I’ve put together for you. Have a snack ready for afterwards. 🙂

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Five cuisines I’m ready to eat on their own turf.

photo by Sangutxujai on Flickr

5. Spain’s cuisine seems to have been all the rage in the culinary world over the past couple of years. Growing up so close to Mexico, I can distinctly remember having vocabulary sessions in Spanish class where the teacher had to explain that a tortilla was a completely different experience altogether in Spain.

I’m not a huge seafood lover, but the idea of super expensive canned seafood products really intrigues me, and I can’t wait to give some of those canned oysters a try on our tentatively planned visit to Spain. Additionally, it appears to this armchair foodie that molecular gastronomy is a really big thing in Spain, but that it’s done in a playful manner that doesn’t take itself too seriously. My kind of people, you know? Spain is the tentative first stop on our honeymoon, so hopefully I’ll be experiencing the sabor of Spanish cuisine myself early next year.

photo from David McKelvey on flickr

4. France has to make an appearance on this list. It’s where all of the classical cooking techniques that home cooks like me talk about in order to make ourselves sound more worldly come from. That’s really not what I’m most ready to sink my teeth into, though. I want to bite into something crusty, flaky, and soft on the inside. You know, a fresh baked baguette.

Anything baked is what my mind tells me I most want to eat on a trip to France, and that day is coming soon I do believe. Breads, pastries, wines, cheeses, roasted vegetables and meats; your days are numbered. Hopefully I’ll be tasting some fine French foods in early 2013.

Sashimi is only one of the foods I’m excited about in Japan

3. Japan has been on my food hit list for a long, long time. Everything from ramen, soba, and takoyaki to the more expensive sushi and Kobe beef has danced through my dreams at some point over the past three or four years. I don’t have to dream much longer, as I’ll be visiting Kyoto and Osaka on September 29th. I imagine that our visit to Japan will be a breathtakingly expensive journey through the world of “cheap” Japanese eats, and that my taste buds will want to go back for years to come.

photo by the TheLawleys on flickr

2. Thailand has been spicing up my life with its cuisine for long before I ever thought I’d actually make it there. On August 4th we’ll be headed to Thailand, and the first thing we plan to do upon arrival is get something to eat. I think the Thai people work magic with fish sauce, vegetables, tofu and noodles. I’m hoping that the cooking class I’ve signed up for will teach me some of their techniques and secrets so that I can keep the heat of Thailand in my belly for a long time to come.

photo by Kristie’s NaturesPortraits on flickr

1. Greece has created over the past bajillion years a cuisine that I at one time really didn’t like. It took me a long time to appreciate the flavors and textures of Greek food, but when it clicked, it clicked in a big way. The food I wish I could find or make while we’ve been living here in Korea is Greek food. The food that looks best on television is Greek food. The food that makes my stomach rumble as I look through friends’ facebook photos is Greek. The liquor that looks like it would produce the most terrible hangovers that are actually worth it is Greek.

Let’s put Greece on notice. Stock up on your food supplies, Greeks. Be ready to teach me your ways. I’m coming for you, Moussaka (that sounded so sinister I had to include it.) I plan to gain at least 10-15 pounds made completely out of feta cheese and meat roasted on sticks. It’ll be worth it when I’m trying to carve those pounds off with runs through the park and weights after we get back home.

Congratulations Greece, you’re #1 on my list.

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