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Southern France
Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Time to Break Those New Year's Resolutions: Crème Fraîche

It’s winter, so it only seems appropriate to discuss those heavy, fat laden comfort foods that were sworn off on New Year’s Day.  Among those: crème fraîche.  This slightly sweet and nutty cousin of sour cream is what broken resolutions are made of.  While we found that these two relatives can mostly be swapped out for one another depending on what continent we are on, we also discovered there are differences.  First, crème fraîche has a much higher fat content, 30-40% versus sour cream’s 18-20%, and it is this higher fat content that prevents crème fraîche from curdling when cooked.  Sour cream cannot withstand high cooking temperatures as crème fraîche can.  Second, there is a slight difference in taste.  Crème fraîche is less acidic than sour cream and slightly thicker.
            Given how the French take crème fraiche seriously, it is no surprise that one has risen to the ranks of quality of AOC or Appellation d’Origine Controle in 1986: Isigny AOC crème fraîche.  “Isigny” is not a brand, but a location.  It’s in Normandy, the Northwest corner of France and is sandwiched between the English Channel and the Bessin and Contentin marshes.  The Isigny territory is damp and mild and therefore has a lush vegetation which is why the buttermilk used to make the crème fraîche has high butterfat levels.  Translation: the cows are very well feed and the milk created is rich.
            Does this mean I’m willing to switch out my sour cream for crème fraîche while in the US?  No, given that crème fraîche is pretty hard to find and I can’t think of any recipe where the extra fat content is truly needed.  Would I recommend trying it?  Without hesitation, resolutions be damned.

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