A big moment during the day is the ‘apéritif’ hour, an interlude between the end of an activity and the beginning of a meal. A glass of rosé wine or champagne (or anything you like), served with saucisson sec, pickles, and crunchy radishes is an important part of French food culture.
Radishes were traditionally eaten to stimulate the appetite and prepare the palate for food. These peppery pink vegetables, eaten with a sliver of butter and a pinch of fleur de sel, is one of the simple pleasures in life that make me love France so much. Whether you are in a bistrot or a three Michelin starred restaurant, you are likely to be served radishes, gougères and hopefully a glass of champagne!
The best radishes I’ve ever had were at Arpège, where we have dined for my husband’s birthdays. Unforgettable moments. ‘Arpège’ is certainly one of the most special restaurants in the world. Chef Alain Passard, crowned with three Michelin stars, is renowned for his vegetable gardens. I have interviewed him in the past, and I have never seen such passion for vegetables. His three organic potagers (vegetable gardens) are his pride and joy, and his quest in life is to create the purest, most perfect vegetables in the world. A true food artist. We discussed the importance of teaching children about seasonal vegetables, and coming up with new and exciting ways of including them in our daily menus.
One of my favourite children’s book is the ‘Inventaire des fruits et légumes’ (Albin Michel jeunesse). I saw it in a bookstore window in Bordeaux and fell in love with it. It’s filled with beautiful illustrations of fruits, vegetables, information and facts. The kids are fascinated by this book, and as a result they truly appreciate what they are eating. Now they are inspired and love drawing and painting vegetables!