Last Friday I mentioned how annoying I find the mixture of food and politics. I was talking about kiwi fruit then.

But after thinking about it some more, I should also say that I find the whole anti-French, anti-European political demagoging to be absurd, and at the very least, self-righteous. We Americans come from all cultures, including European ones. We’re mongrels. Inclusive. 

So why the smug sneers when someone eats French food or knows how to speak Chinese or has a father who came from Kenya?

Especially when it comes to food. Lately the anti-French thing has ratcheted up. It would be laughable if it weren’t so dumb.

Are they kidding? Do these people understand how much French culture has given us? Manet. Cezanne. Matisse. Proust and his famous madeleines. Hugo. Voltaire. Debussy. Faure. Halevy.

And so on.

And the food? Have these people ever tried French Onion Soup? Eclairs or Crepes? Cassoulet? Ratatouille? Chocolate Mousse?

Those are just a few of the goodies we know from French cooking.

Not to be sneered at.

I admit it. I learned to speak French in high school and bemoan the fact that I wasn’t very good at it so I can’t speak any anymore and my daughter has teased me about not even remembering how to conjugate “etre” (“to be”).

I also love and admire French food, one of the mother cuisines, one of the best in the world and from which some of the most famous chefs and their famous creations have come.

I wish these politicians would get off this subject. They sound silly and hollow, not to say unfit for any office. 

Here’s a recipe for FRENCH Ratatouille. It’s terrific in the summer when you can use fresh tomatoes, and in the winter it’s terrific too (use canned tomatoes). Good as a main course at a vegetarian meal (add eggs or a whole grain casserole) or as a side dish with meat, poultry or fish. 


1 medium eggplant, about one pound

2 medium zucchini

salt to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 28-ounce can Italian style tomatoes, including liquid

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1-2 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant and zucchinis into bite size pieces, place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let rest for 30 minutes, dry with paper towels. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper and green pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, basil and thyme. Partially cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings