When I worked in Paris as an au pair, I marveled at how the French seemed to have it all figured out. The family’s grandmother always set the table with the good silver—even on a Tuesday. I was instructed to pick up fresh, fluffy chouquettes from the boulangerie for the kids’ after-school snack instead of, I don’t know, granola bars (which is what I would’ve gotten). It was almost irritating how everyone around me seemed to have effortlessly mastered the art of languid lunches, work-life balance, cheese savoir-faire, and the immaculate matte lip.
Back in New York and many years later, I’m still confronted with the myriad ways the French do it better. For example, when I stumbled upon this bowl, and learned that they have mastered yet another art lost on the rest of us: keeping fruit flies out of the kitchen. While I continue to swat at them, wrap my fruit in tea towels as tightly as possible, and set out homemade traps of dish soap and vinegar (which would work if I didn’t knock them over), the French are over there quietly slaying the whole fruit fly thing.
So what’s the French secret to keeping those pesky little bugs at bay? It’s wine corks (of course). Some say the absorbent material soaks up any extra moisture as produce ripens, which is what attracts fruit flies in the first place. That’s what the classic French cookware company Emile Henry alleges; they cleverly adapted the old trick into an all-in-one cork and ceramic fruit bowl. Others shrug and say that, for some reason, fruit flies just don’t like cork.
Regardless, the method is simple. Just open a few bottles of well-aged red (just kidding; that’s the French version. Any wine will do). Toss the corks right into your fruit bowl, or place near your trash can. (Just make sure there’s no wine residue on the cork, or every fruit fly in the state will be swarming your kitchen.) Then kick back and sip on that wine.
Just call it the laissez-faire approach to fruit flies. So very French.