Interview with Clotilde Dusoulier from Chocolate and Zucchini
Gitanjali Roche interviewed Clotilde Dusoulier, the Parisian foodie behind the bilingual blog Chocolate and Zucchini, and author of The French Market Cookbook. Her blog is a great resource for future Parisian tourists and for anyone who's interested in cooking everyday French food. She also has great advice on feeding small children and how to teach them good eating habits!
Why do you write in English as well as French?
When I started Chocolate & Zucchini in 2003, all blogs were written in English, and since I wanted to join the (tiny) community of food blogs that existed back then, it made sense to write in this shared language. And then, as my audience grew, my French readers started asking me to create a French version, so I did a few years later. It’s a lot of work to maintain both versions, but I enjoy adopting those two slightly different angles.
Why did you start your series 'Parents Who Cook, and has having a child changed your cooking style?
I had a little boy two years ago, and quickly realized how much it was going to change my life in general, and my cooking habits in particular. It took a while for me to find my new groove – I’d always been a spontaneous cook and now I needed to do more planning if I wanted to get anything done – and I thought I couldn’t be the only one, so I decided to ask around for insight and advice. It’s been fantastic hearing from all these parents and drawing inspiration from their most clever tips.
What advice would you give to parents on feeding small children?
The best advice I’ve heard, and the one I want to pass along, is to do what feels right for you. Maybe you love mixing purées, maybe it bores you to tears, maybe you want to start your kid on chunky foods right away so you can all eat the same things, maybe the risk of choking scares you to death… There is no one right way: as long as you’re comfortable with your choices and the kid senses they come from a place of love, you’re all set. Beyond that, I feel pretty strongly that you should never ever force a child to eat (even cajoling and bargaining don’t feel right to me), and that the only way to instill good eating habits in the long run is to lead by example.
What was your best dining experience?
It’s hard to name just one, but a few years ago I had a marvelous lunch at the Jules Verne, the gastronomic restaurant that's up in the Eiffel Tower. It had recently reopened after a renovation, and I was tasting the chef’s cuisine for an article I was working on. It was a gorgeous day, the view was breathtaking, the food excellent -- a contemporary take on classic French foods, I remember a ham and endive dish with truffle sauce that made me love cooked endives for the first time -- and I was with the person I love most in the world. It was magical.
Living in France, are there any American foods that you miss?
Real bagels (the chewy kind from New York), different varieties of kale, and lightly salted chunky peanut butter. Also, burgers from In N Out.
Did living in California affect your cooking or your tastes?
It certainly did! I started to get interested in food and cooking while in California, so I was definitely influenced by this environment, from the cooking magazines I bought to the fruits and vegetables I found at the farmers market and the dishes I tasted at local restaurants. To this day, I feel like I have a very bi-cultural approach to cooking, and I think it shows in my cooking and recipe writing style.