Dorie Greenspan Explains Why American Dinner Parties Are No Fun: Interview Part 2


Yesterday we talked with baking and cooking guru Dorie Greenspan about her new book, Around My French Table. Today she divulges her holiday baking traditions and whether New Yorkers will see the return of CookieBar.

You divide your time between New York, Paris, and Connecticut. Do you eat differently in each city?

Obviously each place is different because of what’s available and the constraints of my kitchens, but I think my style of cooking is the same in all three places. The food that’s in Around My French Table is the food that I would make for you if you came to my house in New York. Although the cheese platter wouldn’t be as good! What’s different is not the way I cook, but in the style of entertaining and cooking at home for friends. In New York, I don’t get invited to friends’ homes often for dinner, and I don’t have people over as often. In Paris, I cook at home all the time. You know, I realized that when Americans have people come to dinner, they say, “I’m having a dinner party.” When we have people over, it’s an event. But the French say “I’m having people come home for dinner.” In France, dinners last forever. You have aperitifs, and people don’t clear the table but sit and talk. You’re serving the same food, and people eat at the same speed, but the evening lasts longer.

Do you think that’s because New York City has more of a chef and restaurant culture versus a home-cooking one?

I don’t know what it is. I love to go out to eat, but there’s something so special about cooking for friends. We went through a stage where you had to know what the hottest restaurant was and you had to have been there. But I feel there’s a movement towards home cooking, and I’m so happy about that.

The question on everyone’s mind: Will there be a CookieBar redux in 2011?

Unfortunately, life got in the way of doing a pop-up CookieBar this Christmas, which is what we had wanted to do, but it’s not over yet …

Do you have any holiday baking traditions?

I’m going to be in Paris this year, and I’ll be buying a bûche de Noël from Pierre Hermé. But I bake like mad for the holidays, and I always make gingerbread. And cookies, of course. I adore French cookies like palmiers and speculoos, but our American cookies are great. Like a good chocolate chip, or molasses, or oatmeal raisin cookie.

So the world’s ending and you only have one type of cookie to eat — what do you choose?

Well, if the world’s ending, it would have to be the world-peace cookie. But if there were two days left in the world, I’d have to make it a black-and-white with sablés and world-peace cookies.