Rice and Apples Make Dinner in France Sometimes you can make something out of almost nothing. Commentator Sasha Aslanian recalls a memorable dinner in France when her host managed to produce a complete meal using nothing more than a bag of rice and a bushel of apples.

Rice and Apples Make Dinner in France

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And finally, in France an enterprising chef proves you can make something out of nothing, or almost nothing. Producer Sasha Aslanian sent in this week's food moment.

SASHA ASLANIAN: The cook used just two ingredients, and it was one of the most memorable dinner parties of my life.

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ASLANIAN: Nearly 20 years ago, I was living in France and visiting a friend in Besancon, a town in the Burgundy wine region. I was a vegetarian, much to the dismay of the French. To them it was like going to the Louvre but refusing to view any paintings with the color blue. It's impossible to eliminate something as fundamental as meat and still experience French cuisine. They thought they were accommodating me when they offered rabbit or quail in lieu of Boeuf Bourguignon.

During my visit to Besancon, my friend had been invited to a dinner party thrown by an artist. She telephoned him to ask if she might be able to bring along her American friend, and she's a vegetarian. Ah, he replied, then I will make riz aux pomme(ph). She laughed as she hung up the phone, shrugging at his certainty, as if yes, but of course, riz aux pomme, what else is there? Neither of us had ever heard of riz aux pomme - rice with apples. We showed up at his (unintelligible) warehouse. I don't even remember if he was a painter or a sculptor. He spoke French too quickly for me to understand and was running frantically to the kitchen, always with a cigarette. A crowd of eight of us assembled around his large table and the artist triumphantly brought out his first dish, rice with apples.

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ASLANIAN: He'd managed to pull off some sort of risotto, cooking the rice and apples together. The taste of apples drove me to keep eating, craving a certain note of sweetness. There was plenty of wine and laughter. And the French people seemed amused, like they were waiting for the real dinner party to begin. The artist passed slices of fresh apples around the table. There might have been a baguette, there must have been. The dinner party fell into the long groove of a warm French evening among friends sitting around a table with a gracious, eager to please host. He sprang up and announced dessert. He returned to the room with apple tarts. His dinner guests roared. It was as if they kept waiting for him to change out of costume, but the gag continued.

After dinner was over, I went into the kitchen. He had bushels of small, misshapen apples that looked like someone, maybe a family member with a tree, had given him, and a sack of rice.

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ASLANIAN: I'll never know if the menu would have been riz aux pomme if the vegetarian American hadn't come, but I suspect he had nothing else.

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ASLANIAN: Afterward I told an American friend about my curious dinner party. She nodded. Shannon's family was briefly on welfare during her teenage years. One night her father went to the refrigerator and found only some carrots and a can of 7-Up. From those he made soup. Shannon told me the carrot 7-Up soup was the best thing she ever tasted.

ELLIOTT: Sasha Aslanian is producer for American Radio Works.

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