The Role of Vegetables in French Cuisine
Long before Americans discovered that three days of cross-country travel and 30 minutes of boiling will drain the life out of even the heartiest vegetable, the French knew the importance of fresh produce from local farms -- bought daily at the market, then quickly and lightly prepared for the table. Vegetables have a time-honored place at the French table, unlike other cuisines, where vegetables are an afterthought, sometimes forgotten altogether. Green beans, artichokes, asparagus, green peas, leeks, tomatoes, endive, and fennel are a scant beginning. Potatoes, too, are treated like royalty in the French kitchen. Herbs, such as thyme, bay laurel, and tarragon, grow in most gardens and their scent wafts from every simmering pot.