02 October 2009

Garlic Bread Is Not French

En français ici.

It all started with this coffee pot:

I have always called it a French press. Imagine my surprise when I got to France and heard it called a cafétière italienne! Is it French or Italian?? (Apparently it was invented by some old French man on a hill with an Italian friend according to this story - but that's besides the point.)

The point is: this kind of cultural mix up happens all the time, like with French fries, invented in Belgium, and French dressing, a commercial sauce in the US often made with ketchup that I've never seen in France. Of course English-speakers are not the only culprits. The French have a sauce américain used on crustaceans that was invented by a French chef and contains shallots, cognac, white wine, lots of butter and a number of other ingredients Americans rarely cook with. They'll talk about an observant person having l'oeil américain (the American eye) no matter what his or her nationality, and despite the fact the expression orginally referred to American Indians, not people who stand when they hear the Star-Spangled Banner.

Sometimes it goes both ways: what the French call crème anglaise, tastes to us like French vanilla. My absolute favorite example of this is the fact that leaving a party without saying goodbye can in French be called filer à l'anglaise (rushing out English style), and, in England, "taking a French leave" - with each culture pining this rudeness on the other. But that's a old war that I'm going to stay out of.

I'd rather talk to you about garlic bread. Despite general wisdom in England, garlic bread is not French. Most French people have never even heard of it, quite a shame in my opinion, especially since it's particularly good made with French bread (which really does come from France).

For 2 people

1/2 baguette (French bread)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp sauce of your choice (tomato/pesto/etc)
1 Tbsp fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC.

Split the baguette in half without cutting all the way through. Spread butter on both sides. Sprinkle garlic on one side and the sauce of your choice on the other (or sprinkle with herbs).

Close bread and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake about 7 minutes before taking off the foil and putting in the broiler 1-2 minutes to toast the bread. Cut into slices and serve warm.


Ivy said...

Very interesting cultural differences. I've never had garlic bread before but I have made baguette with pesto, which is quite similar I suppose as there is garlic in the pesto.

Cicero Sings said...

Well that was a fun post. We use the French Press ourselves and I've crafted my own covers for it.

Mmmm, garlic toast, haven't made that for a while ... set my mind to perkin'!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love garlic bread! The combination of both is heavenly!



Hopie said...

Ivy - Mmm, baguette with pesto certainly sounds good.

Cicero - You've made covers for your French press? How interesting. I'd love to see what they look like.

Rosa - I love it too - and garlic in general!

Psychgrad said...

I love the "filer à l'anglaise" and "taking a French leave" example. I haven't heard of or used either, but it's interesting to see how history is represented in everyday language.

Sam said...

Interesting post, I've always called those coffee pots cafetieres, I thought they were French too!

The English and the French don't get on too well, that's probably where the French leave example comes from. Nothing more than an attempt to irritate the French!

s said...

such a lovely post...hm..garlic bread..awesome!

Anonymous said...

That's it. I'm making garlic bread right now. Seriously.

Hopie said...

Psychgrad - I agree. I find the study of language so fascinating. And I love that example, but just look at how the English language is peppered with all the different linguistic influences it's come across during its history. I love it.

Sam - I've heard them called cafétières too. Funny, isn't it. Yes I noticed about the English and the French. Perhaps because you were trading kings there for a while and the court politics was pretty nasty! :-) It's like how the two-fingered rude gesture in England is basically one big f-you to the French...historically speaking.

S - Thank you. And thank you for stopping by! I'll hop over and check out your blog.

Camille - Ok. Seriously, you should. So yummy.

Hester Prynne said...

Interesting differences, yes.
We say "despedirse a la francesa" (http://www.cafebabel.com/spa/article/29404/expresiones-estereotipos-despedirse-a-la-francesa.html), which means "leaving the French way".
We also have a Russian steak and a Russian salad that are never eaten in Russia! :-)
Yummy garlic bread...

Anonymous said...

I did. And it was.

giz said...

I love the press to make coffee except we always call it a bodum. I think its origin is Swiss but then what do I know - I just like it because it's fast and the coffee is pretty good.

Hopie said...

Hester Prynne - Aha, points tally up against the French for sneaking out of social gatherings :-) How funny about the Russian steak and salad.

Camille - I saw!

Giz - Sometimes they call it a Bodum here too because that's the major brand that makes them. It does make good coffee though. That's the important part.