Feb 28, 2015

Look Deep Into My Eyes: Raclette Braisée


It's not what you say when you toast somebody in France that's so important, it's what you do. The French toast with a "Santé!" ("Health!") or "A votre santé!" ("To your health!") or the more cryptic "A la votre!" ("To yours!").

While you say this, you raise your glass to make your toast. You clink glasses with your table-mates. But above all (above all!) make sure that you look directly into their eyes when you do so. This is critical -- do you hear me? critical! -- because if you fail to look into somebody's eyes at the moment of toasting, French tradition say that you will have bad sex for seven years. And the French really cling to their traditions.

I know, there's that old adage that sex is like pizza, and even when it's bad it's good. But that's an American adage. The French don't give a rat's pitootie about pizza, or about bad sex. There's sex, and then there's good sex, and they want the good kind, thank you very much.

Because the French take their wine, and their sex, very seriously, they honestly do make very sure to look each person in the eye as they clink their way around the table. They look so pointedly at you that you sometimes need to remind yourself that they're not actually planning to have sex (good or otherwise) with you, personally. Or, maybe they are: they're French after all. Cheers!

THE CHEESE: Raclette Braisée

This version of a raclette cheese, Raclette Braisée, comes pre-toasted, or braisée. A cows' milk cheese, like all raclette cheeses, this one is pasteurized and comes from the Lot-et-Garonne department in the Aquitaine region in southwestern France. This is generally far from the Alpine country where you'd expect to see raclette cheese, but it works anyway.

The toasting, in this case, refers to the smoking of the cheese while it's being aged. It imparts a lovely, mellow smoky flavor that goes perfectly once the cheese is re-toasted into oozy sheets melted over baked potatoes and ham, raclette-style. It can be eaten cold, and it's not even bad that way, but I'm not sure why you'd want to, when it's made for melting.


Not only is raclette a great dinner to toast your friends around (though not a dinner that's exactly a boon "to your health!"), this particular raclette is, itself, toasted -- braisée, that is. While we eat our Raclette Braisée toasted on the little device for the home cook, I would have loved to have it toasted by a toasty Alpine chalet fire before we toasted over it.


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