Final dinner w the Skinnies

December 30, 2007

I was unable to join the Skinnies for the day because my being sick finally got intolerable and I caved in & went to the doctor instead. We had decided to have the last dinner together at home, and the Skinnies wanted to cook, in part to thank us for staying here, and in part because they knew we missed good Mexican food, and Mr Skinny’s family is Mexican.

My cousin actually decided to add Chicken Soup to the menu because of my incessant coughing and so our menu was a bit odd – chicken soup followed by tostadas. I offered to make dessert but they said, “oh no, we’ll have way to much food already”. Unheard of in France to have a dinner party without at least 3 courses (starter, main dish, dessert) and just skipping the cheese course (which normally comes before dessert) is unusual.

I’d had lunch out at an Asian restaurant near the doctor’s office, and had Pho, which is a super-yummy Vietnamese broth soup with noodles and bits of meat in it. Pho I love Pho and haven’t had it since I’ve been in Paris, which is crazy, since there is such a large Vietnamese immigrant community here (Vietnam was a French colony for a very long time). If you’ve never had Vietnamese food, and you like Chinese food, you are really missing out. As one of my friends said “It’s like the French taught the Chinese to cook with subtlety”. So my soup was very good – and warm and comforting….and gone to the last drop without a second thought. Right. No “pausing mid-way through the meal to evaluate remaining hunger” and no “leave a little bit uneaten”. Just gone. It’s VERY VERY hard for me to do these new exercises, even when I am thinking about them at the beginning of a meal.

As dinnertime rolls around the Skinnies come back from their day victorious, for they have found one of the specialized grocers and found all the missing ingredients for both their tostadas and the chicken soup (with matzo balls!). They also bought a bag of tortilla chips which they eat from time to time while cooking. Not pigging out, but not counting them carefully either.

The chicken soup was very good. My cousin called my aunt to make sure she had the proportions right for the matzo balls and she added potato to the soup because “she likes it that way” whereas I wouldn’t do that because matzo balls are starchy and potatoes are starchy and for calories it would seems stupid to me to double the starch like that. But Mrs Skinny just thought she liked them, so she added them. Good for her.

The main deal was of course the tostadas. The only thing not from scratch was the tortillas because Mr Skinny says they take a huge amount of time and are hard to do. But he managed to find fresh corn tortillas at the specialty store, and he fried them himself. Yep. Fried, as in a big saucepan full of oil, splatters everywhere. My DH, who has been probably even more intrigued by the Skinnies than me (because Mr Skinny is also very macho, and my DH relates being careful w food as rather un-macho) joked to them – “whoa, aren’t you the ones worried about carbs in your airplane meal and the butter & cream in French cooking?” To which Mr Skinny replied “I pay attention to those things so I can have this from time to time”. Ahhhhhhh, interesting. Naturally skinny he is not, I gathered.

The tostadas themselves were very good. The shells were crunchy and golden and extremely fresh-tasting. We can find Old El Paso taco shells here in France but they are stale right out of a new package, and for me at least not very interesting. The Skinnies had managed to whip up some refried black beans, and made a wicked beef taco mixture w onions and red peppers that was really good. Lettuce, homemade guacamole and salsa topped off our towering tostadas. I had found aged cheddar at the market a few weeks back so we used that – the cheese is one of the hardest things to deal w in Mexican cooking in France, because the Mexican cheeses don’t exist here, and the French substitutes are all so very different it makes it yucky.

We each had 2 tostadas which was a lot of food. Except Mrs Skinny who never got around to getting her second one. Everyone else finished two. Except me, who I am proud to say actually did stop mid-way through tostada #2 and I forced myself to leave about 20% of the tostada uneaten on my plate. That was very hard, as it was a “Rare Treat” but I did it anyway.

My DH, bless him, did not listen to me when I told him to get NOTHING for dessert at the bakery. He had discussed the “Gallette des Rois” with the Skinnies the other day at dinner, and he picked one up despite my telling him not to. A gallette des rois is a puff pastry cake filled with frangipane (almond cream mixture) linked to Epiphany and sold from just after Christmas through January. It is basically pure butter and sugar with a tiny amount of flour to hold it together. It is super flaky and so not-diet it is unbelievable. Actually it’s only good if it’s a high-quality one. From the average bakery they tend to be really greasy tasting and heavy, overly sweetened inside and just not so good. My DH, of course, went to one of the best bakeries in town to get ours. Mr Skinny ate every crumb of his gallette with enjoyment. Mrs Skinny was a bit preoccupied on the internet but ate about 2/3 of her serving, stopping after she found the ‘feve’. I ate all of mine.

Gallette des Rois

All in all, a very tasty day, but not a diet one. I went to bed with that uncomfortable full feeling in my stomach. Isn’t this supposed to be a weight-LOSS blog?

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