They say that you need to be deprived of your most basic essentials before you can appreciate what’s important in life so it’s no coincidence that my urge to write was brought upon by tonight’s fiending for tacos after returning from the closest thing to a dive bar in Geneva.

I’m not writing about dives and/or tacos, although my unsatisfied cravings for tacos was so bad that only minutes ago I was desperately googling “carne asada” so I could stare and salivate at the pictures.

Pathetic. But it at least brought my attentions back to this blog.

The last couple months have been a blur but there have been SO many interesting food moments. There’s the one about the cheese factory in the Auvergne, the bazillion different savory tarts I made in the French countryside and the biodynamic farm I worked on that relied on two donkeys instead of a tractor to plant tomatoes. There’s also the time I dumbly discovered that chard can be cooked in miraculous methods other than a boring boil-then-add-soy-sauce way.

Before I can even talk about those, however, I have to go back to when I recently arrived in Geneva in the fall. We were at Fanny’s house for a hot tub/tartiflette night in the Savoie region; hot tubbing only significant because everyone else was too busy enjoying the tub, leaving me to cook the tartiflette with the guidance of our hostess. Hot tubbing could be slightly more interesting to write about, but probably only when people are naked and drunk, but since that wasn’t the case on either front, tartiflette it is! As you can see from this picture though, tartiflette can be pretty titillating stuff:

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The beauty of tartiflette is that it takes barely any effort at all. I realize now that home French food is really easy to replicate. The French people who have taught me how to make this stuff eyeball everything and NEVER measure. And unlike Chinese cooking, they always use the same three or four ingredients which is even better for a lazy cook like me. So sorry kids, I can give you the recipe but sans quantity so you will have to trust me on this one. This is for your standard casserole dish, but note that the sizes are probably different in the U.S. and France anyway, so just go with it.

Ingredients:

potatoes (16 small ones if you really need to know), peeled and cubed
a packet of lardons (in the U.S. I would buy pancetta and cut them into match sticks)
an onion or two, sliced or diced
white wine (optional)
salt and pepper
cream or creme fraiche
Reblochon cheese

Boil the potatoes. While that’s going, cook the lardons with the onions in a pan, seasoning it with salt and pepper. Add a dash of white wine if you want. When the onions are softened, add the cream, then the potatoes and mix well. Put the mixture in a casserole dish. Depending on what kind of Reblochon you buy, slice it in half down the middle, then half it sideways so that you have four half moons. Lay each peace across the casserole dish, with the rind facing up. Bake in the oven until the rind is as brown and crispy as you like it.

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Serve it with a green salad and a glass of white wine. Make sure you invite friends over when you make tartiflette or you may find yourself polishing off the entire thing if you’re not careful.

Note to American readers: the raw-milk cheese is unavailable in the U.S. so you’ll have to find a substitute like Camembert or Brie.

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