Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Patricia Wells and Ann Mah which was hosted at The American Library in Paris this week. It was a fascinating conversation where they interviewed each other and then entertained questions from the audience. It was a packed house. And they delivered lots of food for thought. While it’s still fresh in mind, I want to share a few highlights.
They offered their opinions of some recent food trends in Paris. Compared to when she first moved to France 35 years ago, Patricia described restaurants today as more international, open more days of the week, and more casual. “The food choices keep getting better and better. There used to be only 12 types of potatoes, and now there are 93.” They touched on the topic of frozen foods. Patricia cautioned against equating “frozen” with “bad,” making the point that what really matters is the product itself. They agreed that consumers need to take responsibility for figuring out where and what is best to eat.
Patricia said one aspect that’s changed the least in France are the markets. “People still line up at their favorite fishmonger.” Her favorite market in Paris is on Avenue Président Wilson in the 16th arrondissement. “You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in 4 hours there!”
The trend of “no-choice” menus has its pros and cons. Patricia noted that “sometimes it can be fabulous, such as David Toutain’s new restaurant.”
One question from the audience was how can we channel energy from the foodie movement into positive social change. Patricia’s answer: “Get more people to love vegetables. And to learn how to shop and how to cook.”
Asked for their advice to aspiring food writers, Ann Mah said “Test recipes more than you can ever imagine. Until they run thru your veins.” Patricia Wells gave the encouragement to follow your passion.
There was much more said and all of it fascinating. Kudos to The American Library in Paris for hosting the event. And now I’m off to follow my passion…and explore more markets!
Patricia Wells’ newest book is The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence. Ann Mah’s new book is Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons on Food and Love from a Year in Paris.