Ask my husband or my daughter about me and they will tell you that I am NOT adapting well to living in the States. I will admit that I seem to be in a perpetual "funk". I think to myself, "Good grief, woman. You have been back almost a year! Get over it and get on with it." It works only to a minor degree.
This morning, I received an email from my old editor in Europe. That sounds very glamorous but I wrote as a volunteer for a publication aimed at military families. I typically wrote on European destinations and I would like to think that some found my articles interesting. This morning, my editor sent me a beautiful pdf file of an article I wrote nearly three years ago about a visit to Versailles. Oh, it is beautiful and it plunged me back.
Honestly, I have to admit that just going to the grocery store in my village was an adventure and believe me, I spent a lot of time in the grocery store. One of our favorite meals was a simple carpaccio. Carpaccio is an Italian dish of very thinly sliced raw beef. In Europe, it is typically served with arugula tossed on top along with drippings of olive oil and shavings of Parmesan. It is so popular that you can find it either in the frozen food section of the grocery or frequently packed in the fresh meat section. The quality of the meat was actually superb and it became a favorite light lunch or dinner. One of the legends of its beginnings indicates that it was created in the 1950s when a women walked into Harry's Bar in Venice and told the chef that she was no longer medically allowed to eat cooked meat. The chef made this dish and served it with a thick sauce.
Once we were in Reims, France visiting the cathedral where at one time, the coronation of all of the Kings of France occurred. As we walked in the lively downtown area looking for a place to have a light lunch, we came across a Sports Bar. This was something that we had not seen in Europe and we were intrigued. There were televisions mounted on various walls and it looked like the food of choice was the iconic hamburger. We had not seen hamburgers served outside of McDonalds so this was definitely a place to stop. One thing we instantly noticed was that the French handled a hamburger very differently than an American. It was NOT picked up with hands. A knife and fork was used to slice through the bread and into the meat. To us, it was an odd sight but too each his own.
I cannot remember what everyone had for lunch that day but I do know that I ordered carpaccio. It was a large portion, very well presented and of very good quality. As we finished our lunch, the waiter came over and asked if everything was ok...if we enjoyed it. "Oui, Oui. C'est bon!" He did not seem to believe us and it took a minute to figure out why. He lifted my plate away and there stood another plate of carpaccio! How did this happen? Well, evidently, it was a double order. One plate on top of the other!
So, why am I fixated today on carpaccio? In digging through the pantry, I located packets of oil that accompanied presliced carpaccio in Europe. Somehow, I had brought them with us to the U.S. (just the oil, not the meat). One packet was just olive oil. The other was a very tasty basil infused oil. Memories again...will they ever go away? However, it did get me thinking. This is one dish that I have great difficulty finding over here except in an Italian restaurant. "I wonder if I could make it?" A quick look at the Internet and I learned which cut of meat to use and I was off...on an adventure to the grocery store.
Back at home, I thinly sliced the meat and plated it for dinner. Adding some arugula, shaved Parmesan, the basil olive oil and salt and pepper...for a moment, we were transported somewhere else. Maybe, this is how I adapt for the moment.
1/2 pound very good quality beef tenderloin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the beef tenderloin in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. This will freeze it lightly and make it easier to slice. Take a very sharp knife and begin to cut very thin slices. Place the slices on a piece of parchment paper and with the back of your palm, highly press down on the slice, thinning it out even more. Place the slices around a plate.
Sprinkle with just a bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Take a handful of arugula and mound in the middle of the plate. Drizzle olive oil around the meat and arugula. Sprinkle the shaved Parmesan over the meat and arugula. Serve immediately.
It is a light meal and I would recommend accompanying it with fresh bread and perhaps serve a nice cheese course as the dessert.