The Bordeaux Kitchen: An Immersion into French Food and Wine, Inspired by Ancestral Traditions
By Tania Teschke
Primal Blueprint Publishing
Eating nourishing foods is satisfying. Understanding how those foods nourish brings a deeper level of satisfaction still. Tania Teschke’s book The Bordeaux Kitchen addresses both what we should eat and why. Much like the iconic Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell, Bordeaux Kitchen educates on a number of levels. It provides context for understanding which foods nourish best, their provenance and how to prepare them. And Bordeaux Kitchen adds a little French flair à la fois (at the same time).
One hundred eighty traditional French recipes make up three-quarters of the book. They are exquisitely presented, with plenty of details. The author includes recipes for beef, fish and seafood, lamb, offal, fats, pork, poultry and more (even desserts).
Early in the book, the author reveals what stoked her passion for the traditional French lifestyle. Due to a personal health crisis several years prior, Teschke had already begun exploring ancestral health ways. But, living with her family in Bordeaux, the positive effects of the French way of eating—cooking from scratch, eating with intention, using fresh, seasonal, nutrient-dense ingredients and animal fats—began to make a serious impact on the family’s health and well-being. Teschke, in particular, saw an improvement in her digestive and hormonal function by cutting out sugar and making other lifestyle changes (such as more sleep and less screen time) inspired by the French.
The tenets of The Bordeaux Kitchen correspond in many respects to the Wise Traditions principles. These include recognizing the importance of animal fats from high quality sources, avoiding overly processed foods and focusing on nutrient density. Number seven is a departure from Wise Traditions principles, however: “Pair your meals with the right wine and savor your food slowly with family and friends.”
The family-and-friends half of that equation fits right into Wise Traditions principles, but the second is hard to grasp because I personally abstain from alcohol. That said, I recognize that a French-inspired cookbook would be overlooking a great deal were it not to include some guidance on wines. One tip I appreciated was that of “regional pairings”—that is, choosing a wine that is from the same region as the dish.
Throughout the book, time and again, Teschke guides us back to the land, traditional foods and time-honored ways of preparing them. On the cost of good food, she notes: “Ancestral eating is worth the time and [financial] investment. The nutrient-density of real, high-quality foods, in my experience, is an investment in your health.”
On the subject of fats, she writes: “It turns out that the ‘French Paradox’ [a term coined in 1991 by Dr. Serge Renaud, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, to describe the seemingly contradictory idea that French people can eat duck fat and drink red wine while maintaining low rates of cardiovascular disease] is actually not a paradox at all. Instead, it is the very fats and nutrient-rich foods used in cooking, and indeed, the very essence of the traditional French way of life that support good health.”
Teschke’s comments on salt: “Another secret of French cooking is the use of mineral-rich, unrefined sea salt. Salts harvested from the sea (as well as mountain salts) contain trace minerals we need to survive in a form that is readily absorbed by our bodies.” On eggs, she says: “Eggs are nutrient dense and are a rich source of saturated fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and water-soluble nutrients such as choline.” On nuts and seeds: “Most nuts and seeds can be soaked in water overnight, so as to encourage them to sprout, releasing enzymes and phytates that might otherwise interfere with digestion and absorption.”
Honestly, I was enchanted by the book and its little charming bits of information. (Did you know, for example, that “every cheese has a season”?!) And I haven’t yet mentioned the glorious photographs, which include mouth-watering images of leg of lamb, step-by-step pictures for learning to filet a fish and multiple photos of every conceivable iteration of pâté!
Although some of the recipes were unfamiliar to me, most require very few ingredients and are far from intimidating. Teschke presents each in an easy-to-follow format. For me, the proof was in the pudding (or should I say “in the baked apricot with lavender”). Every dish I have tried to make has been successful. The veal liver recipe turned out perfectly for me. And my pork meat pâté was so popular, there were no leftovers.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the heft of the book—a hardcover tome of over six hundred pages. Once I cracked it open, though, I realized why it was so long: Teschke leaves no stone unturned. In addition to walking us through the history of French cooking and recipes, she goes to the trouble of including highlights of food culture in both the U.S. and France. She also provides resources for further study on topics as diverse as the microbiome and electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation, and, in a cooking glossary, defines terms such as “trussing” (to tie poultry using a special trussing needle) and “sous vide” (a cooking method that uses plastic bags at temperatures just below 100° C, a technique that Tania points out is neither traditional nor advisable).
This book, at once educational and practical, merits an enthusiastic thumbs up. At one point, Teschke comments: “Unfortunately, even for the French, particularly in bigger cities, the art of traditional cooking is disappearing, as busy people succumb to the modern conveniences and temptations of fast and packaged ‘foods.’” We are confident that this trend will turn around as more people come across books like The Bordeaux Kitchen.🖨️ Print post