Why French cooking and baking? And why should you bother with home cooking and baking, in the first place? These are valid questions, especially when so many other options will quickly and easily put full meals on your table: catered meals, delivery services, frozen meals, take-outs…etc. The reality is most of us have busy lives, and with full meals readily available, it is hard to commit to homemade food, let alone French home cooking and baking. However, homemade French meals have many benefits, which is the reason why I started this blog in the first place.
These are some of the many benefits of home cooking and baking, that really motivated me to learn to cook and bake.
I read an interesting article in a well-known newspaper that really spoke to me. Health professionals were asked “if you had just one piece of health advice to give people in their 20s, what would it be?” I expected the answer to be something in the lines of exercising or eating fruits and vegetables, which was indeed among the answers, but interestingly enough, one health expert answered the single best thing you can do is learn to cook. Not exercising, not eating veggies, but learning to cook! Why? Because as you learn to cook tasty meals, you will naturally find that you can cut down on sugar, fats and excess calories, without compromising flavor.
The best thing about home cooking and baking is that you know exactly what your are eating since you made it! This allows you to ensure you are only eating the good stuff. This is particularly important in a country like the US where artificial colors and preservatives abound. One thing that particularly shocks me is the presence of high fructose corn syrup in so many everyday foods. It’s in cereals, cookies, crackers, fruit jellies, ketchup, and so many other foods we feed our children! High fructose corn syrup is particularly detrimental to your health. Home cooking and baking allows you to completely avoid high fructose corn syrup. This is why I like baking cookies for my kids.
Home cooking and baking also allows you to customize your food to your needs or likings. For example, you can easily cook salt-free or bake with less sugar. Since you control everything that goes in the food you eat, it is easy to control quantities, and eat exactly what you want to eat!
This is not a benefit I knew of before starting to home cook and bake, but something I realized after. Home cooking and baking is actually relaxing! How come? Because when you are cooking and baking, you have to focus on what you are doing: you need to weigh, measure, carefully follow the recipe steps, and while you are doing that, you are not thinking of anything else. Hence, you forget about all your worries and whatever stress you are under.
I find baking especially relaxing as it often requires you to knead with your hands, which is a wonderful sensory experience. I love making my own dough for tarts for this reason.
Now, why specifically French cooking and baking?
French cuisine is world-renowned for being delicious, and yet it is less fattening than other cuisines. So you do not have to compromise taste for a flattering figure! As a matter of fact, while 34% of Americans are obese, the French are a solid 10 percentage points behind (see article). Childhood obesity is actually declining in France, whereas it is increasing in almost all other countries. Though there are many reasons for this, an obvious one in my opinion, is that the sweets and cakes kids eat contain far less sugar than their American counterparts, and portions are much smaller. As a matter of fact, whenever I bake a French cake, I need to use my smaller 9 inch pan versus my bigger standard American pan, because that would be too big for a French cake.
In general, French portions are much smaller overall, and the French diet has more variety. The French eat a lot more fish than Americans, as well as vegetables at every meal. They also eat less fried food or breaded food. While they are many more reasons, the fact of the matter is French cuisine is overall less fattening, while still being delicious!
Though France is not a particularly big country, it is incredibly diverse in terms of regional cuisines because of the diversity of climates and soils. For example, Burgundy cuisine is heavy in meat and cheese, while the lighter Provençale cuisine features a lot of vegetables, particularly garlic and tomato. This diversity in cooking styles and regional specialities makes for a very varied cuisine that ensures you never get bored, and that allows your body to get all the nutrients it needs.
I often hear the misconception that French cuisine is incredibly complicated and requires special skills. This may be true for elaborate cuisine you find in an upscale restaurant, but it is not true at all when it comes to everyday cuisine.
I did not know how to cook or bake at all before starting my journey in home cooking just a couple of months ago. I learned in no time, and most recipes I tried, I succeeded on the first try! Even recipes that might seem difficult, like French brioche, the first time I did it, it came out looking and tasting exactly like it should! All I did was follow the recipe! Easy!
You also do not need a lot of kitchen utensils for French cooking and baking. I only have the basics, and I make all the recipes I want to make.
All these benefits of French cooking and baking are the reason why I spend time in my kitchen cooking and baking, and why I share all my French recipes with you!