Après-Midi Recap

Susan Herrmann Loomis – September 2021

Susan Loomis Harris on Dancing Tomatoes

Susan is an internationally-recognized expert on food and an award-winning journalist/author with a unique approach to her craft by combining training in journalism with a love for food and the people who produce it. It all started with cooking school in Paris, then a year co-researching and authoring The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, by Patricia Wells. She is an award-winning author of thirteen books both food and literary, the most recent of which is Plat du Jour.

It was the first live Après-Midi at the Café de la Mairie, upstairs, that was held in a year. Until now, our only way of holding the monthly coffee gathering, that we’ve held since 2003, was on Zoom—and that worked amazingly well, given the situation struggling with Covid-19 restrictions. We didn’t know what to expect in terms of turn-out, but almost 30 people attended—an equal combination of regulars and newcomers. It was heartwarming to see everyone again after so much time having lapsed.

Susan presented her newest and 14th book, Plat du Jour. These are classic French recipes, perfected by Loomis, and shared along with beautiful photos of the dishes and stories that surround each dish, with helpful tips and intriguing details about French culinary history…Boeuf Bourguignon, Poule au Pot, Bouillabaisse, and much more. French bistrots are famous for them, but with Susan’s recipes one can bring them all into your own home.

I may never cook them myself, but I certainly do enjoy them. Just about every day, I head to Café Charlot that intelligently offers a Plat du Jour every day and that’s one of the reasons for my regular patronage. I know I can order up something new and different every day that will be well prepared and taste great. I once heard from “a little birdie” that because of my daily order that the waitstaff have nicknamed me “Madame Plat du Jour.” So, seeing Susan’s book with the title “Plat du Jour” made me think it “had my name on it.”

Susan imparted her words of wisdom about her culinary art and craft. We learned a lot, including that Lyon is the dividing line between cream and olive oil—they cook with cream in the north and olive oil in the south. We learned that the Dordogne has a low count of heart disease thanks to all the red wine they drink there. It was interesting also to learn that the concept of a restaurant began just after the French Revolution when the aristocrats were beheaded or fled the country leaving their chefs to seek employment elsewhere…and before you knew it, nearly 50 elegant restaurants had popped up in Paris. These chefs ingeniously developed the art of cooking meat within certain essences…or sauces…still prepared in much the same way today.

Susan has a new venture born out of Covid-19 called Dancing Tomatoes. It is a “cooking, culture, and entertainment platform dreamed up because we love to cook, we love to teach, we love to share, and we love to eat,” as the website suggests. From the platform, Susan is giving online courses twice a month where you’ll get recipes, ingredients lists and specially prepared videos so that when it’s class day, you’re ready to go! You can cook along or just watch; you can ask questions through the chat function, and you’ll have the best, most delicious time together with Susan, in her Parisian kitchen!

She divides her time between a lovingly-restored 15th-century convent home in Normandy, a quick hour outside of Paris and across the street from the Gothic Church of Notre-Dame de Louviers, and Paris.

Susan Hermann Loomis in front of her 15th cetury convent/house

I urge you to explore it all and by all means, order up your copy of Plat du Jour!

For more titles, click here for her Books page

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