Review: French Food at Home
I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen. This time I’m watching French Food at Home.
French Food at Home is another import from Food Network: Canada starring Laura Calder. At first the thought of a show about French cuisine that is shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia didn’t appeal to me until I remembered that the title isn’t French Food in Chamonix it’s French Food at Home. Home is anywhere so I pushed that prejudice aside and clicked the start button.
Host Laura Calder has a neat back story. She gave up a nondescript office job in Toronto and moved West to study the culinary arts. While working in California she was invited to move to Paris to help with a writing project about wine and food; the trip was scheduled to take nine months. Seven years later Calder was a full on Francophile having remained in the City of Lights. Her companion book to the show also entitled French Food at Home was first published by HarperCollins Canada in January 2003. It was later followed by French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating both are available at amazon.com.
Her accent is very distinct, it’s not exactly Canadian and not exactly French. Does that make it French-Canadian? There’s an almost British lilt to it. She is definitely attractive with a pleasant face and a Giada-esque figure. She also has mischievous eyes that suggest she knows something she isn’t telling you. She has an unbridled love of food which makes her an excellent host.
The production quality is not quite as solid as what I have seen of the other FN:Canada productions like Everyday Exotic. The lighting at times is a little dull or dank while the editing is way too jerky. Sometimes visuals flip by so quickly that they should have a warning for epileptics during the opening credits. It can be unnerving. It’s more like a BBC show than a Food Network caliber program.
The style of the show strikes me as being very Cosmo – topical, sleek and just a tad grandiose. But it is not stuffy at all. The thing about a show on French cooking is less about recipes and more about philosophy. French cuisine, like Italian, is built around finding the best possible local, seasonal ingredients and letting imagination do the rest. Where French cuisine differs from Italian is in technique. The French have mastered most of the world’s notable techniques while Italian food is more rustic. French Food at Home does an adequate job of demonstrating this but would benefit from spending a little more time on it.
Here’s the network description from the web site:
French Food at Home invites you to share in a lifestyle that brings the magic of contemporary French food home. Witty and charming host Laura Calder makes cooking French easy, from bistro desserts to savory tarts to scrumptious sautes. Laura’s enthusiasm inspires viewers to make simple and irresistible dishes like herb-crusted leg of lamb, smooth and smoky squash soup and light-as-a-cloud chocolate orange mousse.
All and all it is not a bad show with ample potential.