mimicking france, the asian way

cukeDuring our visit to France in May, a friend of ours suggest that I read Bringing Up Bebe, a book written by an American mother raising her children in France, and I’ve been delighted by and obsessing over it ever since.  I don’t completely agree with the French way of parenting in all regards, but I really love the priority French parents place on providing their children as early as possible with a wide variety of three-course meals, especially for lunch. 

One night, while relaying this practice in painstaking detail to the hubby (“And then her two year-old finishes her meal with a wedge of brie and a light salad!  Swoon!”), he observed that we kind of do that already in our house.  I thought about our dinner over the last few nights, and I realized he was right: I do try to make dinner at our house a three-course affair most nights. The Gravy Baby usually starts bellyaching about his dinner being ready around 5:30 each night, and I usually try to start on a first course of a light vegetable of some kind — sliced avocado with a little viniagrette, carrot salad with grated coconut and lime juice, or the family’s collective favorite, lightly pickled Persian cucumbers, Asian-style.  For our main course, I try to serve a variety of different types of cuisine ranging from Mexican to Thai, and we always finish with fruit for dessert.

The pickled cucumbers are especially perfect for weekdays in the summer — I can throw it together in less than 10 minutes, and the Gravy Baby and the hubby crunch, crunch, crunch away on them while I use a precious few minutes to finish cooking our main course.

Plus, it makes me happy to think how francais we’re being.



Pickled Japanese Cucumbers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A light little appetizer to start a summer meal
Serves: 4
  • 6 Persian or Japanese cucumbers*
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Red pepper flakes and/or dried seaweed, optional
  1. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise, then slice again lengthwise into approximately 2-3 inch pieces (pictured above) and place in non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add rice vinegar, stirring thoroughly.
  3. Add soy sauce and sesame oil, then top with sesame oil and red pepper flakes and/or dried seaweed.
  4. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve.
  5. * Persian or Japanese cucumbers, the small variety that are sweet and crunchy, are the best for this recipe. Other types of cucumber don't hold their crunch as well, and that annoys the Gravy Baby to no end (seriously, he won't touch them).