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Vive la France! Please Pass the Butter

Vive la France! Please Pass the Butter

BreadWe're feeling inspired: July brings a month of festivals -- and opportunities to eat -- throughout France, from the Tour de France and the Festival d'Avignon to Bastille Day and the Nice Jazz Festival.

Bring on the baguettes, paté and cheeses... A toast to the intrepid cooks of continental cuisine: à la vôtre!

French food can certainly be high brow and fussy, but contrary to cooking mythology, not all French food is complicated nor does it all involve a liberal use of butter and cream. Instead, French culinary traditions have been developed to use locally available game or seafood, and whatever seasonal herbs, fruit and vegetables are on hand.

In other words, keep things fresh and simple (you can always embellish later). Simplicity gives us the freedom to take small pleasures in daily gastronomic details.

On Saturday, I sampled one of the best cups of coffee I've had in years. Where? At an automotive repair shop. One of the employees is a java aficionado who knows his way around hazelnut and French roast. I was almost sorry when the work was finished on my car. That's the power of sharing simple and fabulous food, even a humble cup of coffee that happens to taste monumental.

The French don't have any mysterious secrets to living well, they just know how to savor things as they come, festival or not.

The lesson learned: any time is a good time to break bread. Just don't hog the whole loaf.

Enjoy!

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