Two years ago, I lived with a family in France for a month and a half in an attempt to learn French and travel. Looking back on my decision to lodge with a family I had never met and only corresponded with very briefly through email, it is amazing to me that it turned into the best summer of my life.
France is a sensory place and, to some, overwhelmingly so. The people are too French, the language is too formal, the food is too rich. But to condemn the French for their idiosyncrasies is to ignore the very thing that makes them and their country so remarkable. France is a place steeped in history and tradition. Trust me, you can practically see Baudelaire scribble in his corner booth at Les Deux Maggots and feel the tension of warring German and French influences in Alsace and Lorraine.
One of the ways that France preserves their rich, formal history is through food prepared in the very same way. Unfortunately for me, being lactose intolerant hampers my ability to enjoy the wide variety of cream sauces and cheeses that are so integral to French cuisine. So, imagine my surprise when my adopted French family revealed to me the Provencal style of French cooking. Simple food prepared with the informality of familiarity and the richness of love. This is one of the recipes I learned that summer. It is the perfect meal for a busy parent who wants to use leftovers (anything can be stuffed into the cavity) and it’s truly a perfect family-style meal.