Our Cookbook Club has learned a lot from our month in France, cooking from My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz’s ode to French cuisine. Perhaps the most important lesson has been the reminder that French food is not all dots of sauce or foam, plated with tweezers and served with heavy sauces, but rather le cuisine du marché—food inspired by local producers, seasonal trends, and the many global influences that make Paris and its surroundings such an incredible melting pot.
No dish is a better reminder of “market food” than Lebovitz’s Le Grand Aïoli, a simple platter of raw or lightly cooked vegetables—whatever’s in season, encourages Lebovitz—accompanied by a rich, garlicky mayonnaise.
If you need a little inspiration, My Paris Kitchen’s version calls for everything from carrots to kohlrabi, proving that truly anything goes. A staple in the south of France, this Provençal feast is also wonderful served alongside a roast chicken or even seafood.
(Having trouble getting your aïoli to emulsify? Lebovitz notes that some oils are cut with other varieties, which can cause mayonnaise to split, so be sure to double-check.)
Even though some members lamented the idea of heavy French fare in the summer, the book is full of plenty of reminders that summer is the season of the market:
Joy Huang’s Tian, a dish of baked Provençal vegetables, showed off the eggplants and tomatoes that summer brings with gusto. And while you do have to turn on the oven, the dish is—surprisingly—best served at room-temperature, so feel free to chill out, literally, with a glass of rosé on ice, post-bake.
While the impending new month means we’re moving on from My Paris Kitchen (head here to see what's up next), we’ll all remember Lebovitz’s lesson of making use of the best ingredients available and truly letting them shine, as the French do.