I’ve you’ve been watching food blogs very long, you’re probaby as curious about Charles as I have been. He sort of sneaked in to my awareness. I’d see a comment from him to another blog I followed or I’d see his name on social media and one day last year I realized I’d never been over to Five Euro Food to check him out. I went and I’ve followed every post since.
Most of his food isn’t pretentious and it’s not expensive but it IS delicious and the pictures will make you hungry. I’ve tried licking the screen but it just doesn’t do the food justice. One of the things I like best about Charles the man are the wonderful comments he leaves on blogs he follows.
You don’t often see a comment of, “Nice pie,” from him. He shares a story, asks a question and definitely shows that he’s read the post and is leaving a comment because he wants to, not because that blog owner left a comment on his blog. He told me that people spend a lot of time on every blog post and they deserve to know he’s read the whole thing. I really respect that.
Charles is originally from England and went to university in France to study French literature and as he says, “other ‘exciting’ things too.” He lasted two years before deciding it really wasn’t doing it for him and he packed up and headed back to England and worked at a bank for a year or so. In 2005 he moved back to France to work at a videogame company. His claim to fame is that his name is in the credits of 5 titles which are popular around the world. He didn’t tell me which ones, though.
I wanted to know if it’s really possible to live in France and eat for five euros a day. He says it’s totally possible but not if you eat out. Even McDonalds is €7. While it’s possible to eat for €5, he agrees that it’s difficult to eat at that price and eat ethically. Vegetables are fairly inexpensive but not the organic ones. Free range eggs are twice as much as battery eggs and organic meat is up to 3 times more expensive. I know for some, any egg at all is better than one you cannot afford but as someone who used to have her own chickens, I could never eat an egg from a battery hen.
If you’re okay with eating vegetables, grains, pastas, pulses and fruit, then €5 will work for you. Meat is still possible as long as you reduce the quantity you buy. For instance, Charles says a reduction in the beef from 500 grams to 250 grams will still give you the taste you want and you can bulk up the sauce with mushrooms.
He’s been cooking 3-course meals since he was about 13. As kids everywhere, his first meal was macaroni with cheese and he was only 7. He loved cooking and would often cook for his parents and their friends. He thought about a career in food but he prefers to keep it fun and do things on his own terms. Maybe one day he’ll start a catering business, he said that’s something he would love to do. He’s also exploring options of studying at some pastry schools in France.
When I asked what part of blogging he likes the most, he stirred the pot up by saying it wasn’t the cooking or photography or the blogging but the social aspect of it all. Charles loves meeting people around the world who love preparing food, smelling tomato vines, enjoying the flavour of a slice of perfectly roasted aubergine. He also loves that he’s got a huge archive of food he’s created over the past two years.
He’s married and I asked who does the cooking at home. It used to be that Charles did the cooking but his wife was sad that she never got a chance to play with food so now they take turns and each cooks for a week. She helps Charles with the blog by giving advice and eating the food he prepares. The best piece of advice? Proofread. Good advice for us all.
“A post which hasn’t been proofread really sticks out – typos, sentences which don’t make sense – it can sometimes make it hard to read. For me blogging is an iterative process – I’ll start a post on Monday, write some more on Tuesday, delete some and rewrite some more on Wednesday, finally post on Thursday. This disjointed method of writing isn’t conducive to good thought flow sometimes. I never used to bother proofreading and some of my posts were terrible.”
I asked Charles if there was a creation that he was particularly proud of and he’s got two. One is Oat Cakes, something his mother used to make but he hated them so he managed to reproduce the oat cakes he loved from the store.
The other thing was his beef and mango salad because it has a ton of awesome flavors bursting out.
Because his blog name is Five Euro Food, I wanted to know how many people base their meals solely on budget. I would love to say that I do but I’d be lying. I see something on a blog or in a magazine or in a cookbook and I’ve just GOT to have it. Then I go to the store and see things that look tasty and figure I’ll use it somehow and too often I don’t get time.
I’m the worst shopper. I go looking around buying all sorts of things which I think “look nice” in the belief that “I’m sure I can find a use for them”. I guess I prefer to buy so much because I hate feeling limited in the kitchen – I don’t want to make something, decide it would be fantastic with a bit of x, y or z in it, only to find I don’t have any x, y or z. The wisest people make a menu for the week, check what is already in the cupboards and then buy accordingly (my wife rocks!) – that way you don’t end up with 3 boxes of ground cumin :p
Given a choice he prefers savory over sweet. He said that his most popular post of all time was a chocolate cake. “If you throw something out there made from courgette, it’s a lot harder to get people excited.” I love his sense of humor but I must agree with him. I would choose cake over zucchini too.
Sometimes I have a great deal of difficulty with spelling. I WAS the town spelling champion when I was a kid. (okay, small town and a million years ago). Do I use eggplant or aubergine, flavor or flavour, cilantro or coriander, savory or savoury, list temperatures in Fahrenheit or Celcius – and the list goes on. I asked Charles if he feels compelled to translate for his American readers.
“Oh God yes – I was thinking of making a special page on my site just for some translations – “snow peas”, “turbinado sugar”… it makes my dainty British brain confused… don’t even get me started on cups as measurement…”
Charles isn’t good at everything in the kitchen. That surprised me because he comes across as very clever in the kitchen. The truth is, he makes a crap curry – maybe not the worst in the world but when he sees the incredible food created by Indian bloggers, he really wants to learn the proper techniques and base recipes so he can make some awesome Indian dishes.
There are fantastic photos on Five Euro Food. One of his passions is photography and he loves to get out and about taking photos and sharing them with us all. He’s looking forward to doing more of that because he says that when people post personal photos it gives readers something to relate to. I couldn’t agree more. I could get recipes in a cookbook so I follow blogs because I love the stories as well as the food.
He would love to do a Five Euro Cookbook one day. He says there are a lot of cookbooks out there these days and getting a publisher is nearly impossible. He might consider self-publishing. I hope he does. Imagine if he realized his dream of having a home and garden with a few chickens and wrote about his life and food.
Since he lives in France and he loves food, I asked if he’d ever consider giving food tours there. He’d love to try it. He’s going to do more French food like the calissons and chouquettes and would like to dedicate 5 posts to a specific region in France along with photos.
I asked how he sees food blogging evolving over the next few years and he says he certainly hopes to see more men because it’s a pretty female-centric food blogosphere. Nothing wrong with that but as a guy he’d like to be able to follow more than 2 blogs by other men. He says sites like “BlogHer” don’t encourage men.
What makes a great meal in the Smith household? He made me go all ‘awww’ when he said, “A fresh salad, good baguette, glass of wine and the best dinner partner – my wife.” See? you went all ‘awww’ too, didn’t you? Women adore a man who loves his wife and says so proudly.
Next time I head to France I’m going to send Charles an email that says, “I’m coming over, start the cinnamon buns.” That’s what everyone asks for when the visit. Charles’ wife is from Sweden so that’s why you’ll see a sprinkling of Swedish recipes on his blog. One of his favorite chefs is Swedish Leila Lindholm along with River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Delia Smith and Gary Rhodes.
I was curious if he had any funny stories about being a Brit in France. I cracked up at this and I can see this scenario happening.
“Aside from being constantly mocked for being British and obviously having no taste in food and boiling all my meat and eating it with mint sauce, you mean? Well, one time I wanted to buy a piece of pork to make pulled pork with. The butcher could not comprehend why I would want to slow cook the meat for 10 hours. He was convinced I’d gotten confused with ham and said I could buy some “jambon” if I wanted, but I said that all I wanted to do was cook the pork with salt and spice for 10 hours… he looked at me like I was insane. I think they’re not big on slow-cooking meat here!”
Charles tries to post on his blog every 3 days. Like all of us, he was religious about it when he first started but he’s learned that the world doesn’t end if he misses a day or so. He says it’s important to keep the content fresh but not to turn blogging into a chore. I see that way too often when I read a blog post that starts out with an apology for being away. If I have to apologize it’s a job not a fun hobby.
I wondered how he gets everything done with working, blogging, cooking, photography, chores, wife, family – and all those comments he leaves for everyone. It’s a healthy dose of burning the candle at both ends, staying up way later than she should. Not only doesn’t he mind the long hours, he loves it because food and people are his passion.
He is NOT a gadget collector. He prefers to spend his money on “buy it for life” stuff like beautiful saucepans – thick, heavy copper and wonderful craftsmanship. Much more useful to him than an egg boiler or orange juicer.
What food can’t you put down?
“Hummus! Oh yeah!”
Who’s your favourite chef and why?
“I actually just bought “River Cottage: Veg” on iTunes the other day and really enjoyed watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I don’t really watch too many chefs – I appreciate a bit of Delia Smith and Gary Rhodes because they both do great things for British cookery. I like watching a Swedish cook as well, called Leila Lindholm”
Coming up on Five Euro Food, Charles will be doing cookbook reviews as well as monthly round-ups of delicious things he’s found on blogs that are in keeping with the “five euro” theme. He’s also going to be working on his photography and videos.
I always like to end with a memory recipe and here is the one Charles wants to share with us. His mother made these mince pies and he says while they’re simple, they just rock. When he was a kid there were enormous tins of them, all dusted with sugar and he’d eat until there was no tomorrow. Little sweet, delicious parcels of festiveness. “Family Christmases… it’s a really nice thing, isn’t it?” I couldn’t agree more.
- 340g Plain Flour
- 85g Butter
- 85g Vegetable Shortening or Baking Margarine
- ~4 tbsps Milk + ~4 tbsps Milk for glazing
- Start by pre-heating your oven to ~190 degrees Celsius, and then cut the butter and shortening into cubes. Add into a large bowl with the flour. Combine with your fingertips for a few minutes until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I find the best way of doing this is to grab two large handfuls of flour and fat, press them together and rub it between your palms/fingers until it’s it’s all dropped back into the bowl and then start again.
- Once you reach the “breadcrumbs” stage, add the milk, a little bit at a time, mixing well in between each addition until you have a manageable dough which is still a bit crumbly but forms a good ball if pressed together. Transfer about half of the pastry to a well floured surface and start to roll out. Roll it a couple of times, and then rotate the pastry 90 degrees to ensure no sticking and even rolling. Continue rolling until the pastry is about 4mm thick. Assuming your mince pie tin has twelve slots, you’ll need one pastry cutter which is a little larger and another cutter which is slightly smaller than the slot itself. Cut twelve of the larger sizes and press the pastry discs gently into the slots, being sure to push into the corners. Place a heaped teaspoonful of Mincemeat into pastry cases and then cut 12 discs using the smaller cutter – re-rolling where necessary – and press the pastry circles gently onto the top of the mincemeat-filled cases.
- Brush the tops of the pies with the milk for the glaze and place into the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until starting to turn a golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before popping out onto a wire rack to cool using a knife. Repeat the process for as long as you have pastry remaining.
- Enjoy as they are cool, or warm them gently in the oven before serving. They make an excellent accompaniment to tea, coffee, a dessert, or just a snack. Dust with icing sugar for best results and serve with cream!
If you aren’t a friend of Charles now, please visit Five Euro Food, follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. He’s just a lovely guy and you won’t be sorry. We need to be supportive of our men friends.
Blush, thanks Maureen – I had so much fun answering your questions! Thank you for an entertaining write-up!
Glad you liked it, my friend. Charlie and I will be over for cinnamon buns, just you wait! …and we want a LOT of them. 🙂
Hotly Spiced says
I love Charles too! I stumbled across his blog when reading someone else’s post and so clicked on his URL, read his post, left a comment and could not believe that within a short period of time he had replied to my comment and visited my blog leaving another of his charming comments. I don’t know how he does it all either – he must spend so much time reading and commenting on blogs – and yes, you truly get the sense he is an extremely sincere guy. I’ll be looking him up when I get to Paris and calling for a few of those cinnamon swirls. Great review Maureen xx
I don’t think he lives in Paris but it would certainly be fun to try to find him. 🙂 Seriously, France is only a few inches wide on the map, how tough could it be?
Pretty much in Paris – 20 mins away by car. Means I get all the fun of the capital without the shoebox apartments and extortionate rent 😀
Kitchen Belleicious says
i love charles! He is awesome and always enjoy his blog! great feature
Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails says
Charles was one of the first people that I met when I started blogging late last fall. His ongoing comments were very encouraging, especially in those first few weeks when I was uncertain about my photos and posts. I really enjoyed your article and the opportunity to learn a little more about the man behind so many creative and mouth-watering recipes. I’ve been looking for an Oat Cake recipe, so I’m excited to find one from Charles. Great profile Maureen!
Exactly what I meant about his comments. Always helpful and uplifting. A genuine nice guy.
Choc Chip Uru says
I have yet to properly investigate Charles’s blog but by your interview, seems like I have been missing out! What a wonderful interview 😀
Choc Chip Uru
You opened my eyes to a new food writer. Thanks!
Lorraine Not Quite Nigella says
He sounds very entertaining and honest! And those cinnamon buns sound amazingly tempting too. I think it’s true, it’s no good when blogging becomes a chore. I think you can tell in people’s writing if it does.
Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan says
I have been following your blog for a while and I am always amazed at what you come up with in Paris because the environment is so different from what we get here in Sydney. Your recipes are exciting and delicious and the one that has stuck with me is your homemade nougat.
Thanks Chopinand 😀
In this very short while that I have been around, I learned two things: a) My decision to start a blog wasn bang on and it’s worth every moment I spend on it; b) It is so important to be sensitive about what other people put out there. On both counts, Charles has been a very strong influencing factor. I love his creations, but more than that, I love the kind person that’s behind it. A comment from him makes my day, and what I love about him is that he is always so sincere.
Maureen, you are brilliant at portraying any person. This write up is everything that I thought about Charles, but expressed in words that I would never think of. Brilliant!
And you are so right. Cake over Zucchini……hahahaha! Charles, if you ever want to know how curry works, my kitchen is open for you 🙂
Thanks so much Minnie for your kind comment about me and the offer of help. The problem is time, and to be honest, availability of ingredients. I can’t find things like fenugreek and curry leaves easily here, and both are quite common ingredients I think, right?
Maybe we all need to head to your kitchen, Minnie, what a curry party that would be!
Oh yes, please do!!! It would be just one fantabulous curry blast!
Charles, you would be surprised. Neither curry leaves, nor fenugreek leaves are commonly used ingredients. They are used the way you would use say, a cherry essence in a cherry cake. You wouldn’t use it in a pineapple cake. Cumin, coriander, red chili powder , cinnamon, bay leaf, black peppercorns – these are the basic ingredients. If you have these on hand, you have a curry. Most curries are get their flavors from the way onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic are fired. Then comes cumin and coriander powders. Coconut is more common an ingredient than curry leaves or fenugreek. Turmeric is also another very common ingredient, though I use it sparingly.
Maybe I should do a post on it…….just thinking of how the Indian food has come to be associated with butter chicken, naan and dosa makes me batty.
Oh wow! He seems like such a fun guy and truly passionate about food which is so rare to see these days! I can’t wait to check out his blog 🙂
Cakewhiz, you are so right. I also agree with Charles — we need more men who want to share their love of food through a blog. Men are great cooks too.
Norma Chang says
Oh yea, Charles writes great blogs that are fun to read and learn from. Gorgeous photos and recipe tutorials and delicious end results.
Agree, he is a very sincere person and leaves encouraging comments, I look forward to reading his comments to my posts.
I too wonder how he manages to get everything done, does he have more hours in a day than I do?????
He works for a videogame company so maybe he’s learned to virtually expand time. It’s my theory. lol
hahahahaha!! Norma, even I wonder about that.
Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook says
Really enjoyed your interview! I’m off to check out the Five Euro Food, it sounds like a blog I’d enjoy. The photo’s are fantastic, I love the beef mango salad, now I’m getting hungry!
Me too, Carol!
Mikaela Cowles says
I love how you’ve been introducing us to such fantastic bloggers. Charles sounds amazing and after reading your review I went and looked at his blog. You weren’t kidding. His pictures do make you want to lick the screen.
It’s interesting what he says about the social aspect of blogging. I never thought I would find that when I started my blog. I never expected to find it. There it is none the less – all these people who brighten my day whom I’ve never met. Thank you for being one of them.
Mikaela, I felt the same way when Charles told me it was about the interaction with people around the world that got his creativity going. I suspect that’s a big reason behind why I do it but I never thought about it before. I work from home and don’t have daily interaction with a lot of people and I miss it. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Jerry Ko | Simply Good Eating says
Maureen, another wonderful write post. I’d sure love to try some of that Mango and Beef Salad with Rice Noodles as well. Looks delicious!
I can’t wait for mango season to come around so I can try that salad!
Jenn and Seth (@HomeSkilletCook) says
off to check out his blog! great interview Maureen, i just love reading about other food bloggers!
Coffee and Crumpets says
Alright! A man blogger! I think it’s important to know about the men who cook and write and their ideas . Charles sounds great and not only because he’s a fellow countrymen. I will definitely visit his site and thank you for doing such a nice interview and introducing us to him.
You are so right about encouraging more men to blog about the dishes they create. So many clever men and so few take the time to share it with us.
I wish I had thought about this ‘man’ thing before…..I might have changed my Lady8home theme…..
Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says
How fun to see Charles’ work over here – What a great tribute you’ve put together Maureen! Charles not only posts delicious food and gorgeous photos, he is also hilarious and keeps us all entertained with his writing – yay Charles!
It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks he’s a clever young man. Btw, have you watched any of his videos? What a fantastic voice on this man!
claudia @whats cookin italian cuisine says
How amazing each photo is, I had one experience with spotted dick, a coworked came in with a can of it, she was from England, we had a great time with that one… I love these mince pies looks yummy!
Charles didn’t include spotted dick when he sent me photos. That was purely my quirkiness 🙂 At my hen’s night party several years ago I did what I have always wanted to do. 25 ladies and I got to say, “Who wants spotted dick?” I’m a very simple minded person.
Seems we all love Charles!! I always adore the thoughtful comments he leave me, and his blog is very inspiring!
Hi Ashley, I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.
Interesting to see a great blog by a bloke. Maybe I should consider starting one.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!! I really love yours so your comment made me really happy 🙂
Glamorous Glutton says
Thank you so much for introducing me to Charles. I’ve no idea how I haven’t come across 5 Euro Food before. Great looking mince pies but I eat soo many at Christmas I need the year to get over them! definitely one to keep though for when I can bring myself to bake them again because I will. My other weakness is Kanelbullar – we had them for breakfast warm, when I was au pairing in Stockholm – a while ago now! GG
i think i better start visiting his awesome blog now! 😀
Latest: Happy Father’s Day
haven’t gotten across his blog yet! thanks for sharing! 🙂
He has an interesting insight on blogging. It’s good for me to step back and think about what I write, what I read and how I interact with the blogosphere. I don’t do that enough. I think I will run right over there and introduce myself. GREG
Lovely to see you Greg, I have no idea how you find the time to leave comments. Is that cookbook done yet?? 🙂
This was a very detailed and interesting post. I will need to pop over to Charles’ blog. I am always fighting between getting to all my bloggers posts and still trying to read them thoroughly which can be pretty overwhelming, since I do have the thought that someone has always been missed. I used to just type and post, now there are posts that are in there and there is time for editing-which is a great improvement. Enjoyed this post and as Greg says-it does make you think.
Lois Christensen says
What a great post! I’m going to head over to his blog now, as I’m sure most everyone reading your review is doing! Want to do one on my blog next week? Thanks for visiting!
Hi Lois, I have quite a few blogs in my queue and I only write about blogs I know well. That way my post is written from my heart and I like them better. Maybe others don’t care but I do. I just found your blog and I really like what I’ve seen. Give me a bit of time to feel at home there. 🙂 thanks so much for coming by, it means a lot.
Kim Bee says
Maureen- Great interview and subject choice. I really enjoy the way you write these. The style draws me in.
Charles- So nice to see you here. I have to say I’m guilty of the cups as a measurement. I really need to put a conversion page on the blog. My dad loved mince pies so you brought back some great memories with that recipe.
My American parts always used cups but once I moved here and started using scales, my baking and cooking has improved. I use a converter to make a lot of American recipes I find on blogs. 🙂
balvinder ( Neetu) says
Great post, Haven’t gotten to see all his recipe but recently I saw one of his couscous recipe which I liked it very much.
What a fabulous and extensive write up. Immediately hopped on to charles’ site to check out the goodies and there is so much to process there. Glad m doing this on a Sunday :D. BTW your bucket list is fab and you have some of my favs there.
Thanx for stopping by my space.
Hi Anuja, thanks so much for visiting. I found you from a link somewhere and I looked all around after seeing that gorgeous fig tart. I had to pin it too!
A great write up. I did want to know a little more about him, as I see his comments here and there. Thanks for the heads up Maureen
Kristi Rimkus says
The Mango Beef Salad looks amazing. Terrific interview!
Exceptional interview – I really like how you write these up. I’ll bet the majority of our meals are less than 5€, although I never really tote up the expense. (And of course sometimes we blow that figure out of the water when we’re doing something really special.) So this is a really interesting concept for a blog. And I agree about measuring cups – I wish we in the US would go to weighing food. It’s a lot more precise (it’s the only way to go when baking) and frankly I find it easier. Anyway, thanks for this.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
Oh Maureen, thanks for having Charles here! I’ve also been a big fan of Charles since I discovered his blog and ever since then I’m following him. He’s a very sincere guy and I hope that there will be more and more male bloggers like him. He’ll for sure publish a cookbook one day. No doubt. He always have a positive and professional attitude to food blog world and I really admire of him.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
So glad you posted this interview with Charles! I’m always entertained and/or informed by his posts. I’m so glad I discovered his blog when he guest posted for Nami!
I love Nami AND Charles!
Sawsan (Chef in disguise) says
I too came to find Charles blog by following his wonderful comments on different blogs, you are totally right Maureen, you can tell how interested he as and that he has indeed read the whole post, he appreciates the effort that goes into every post and that is special.
I really hope he’ll publish a cookbook someday, I’ll buy it in a heart beat. His attention to details and passion for each and every recipe will make it an amazing cookbook 🙂
I can’t remember how I came across Charles’ blog (old age is getting to me) but I’ve never regretted subscribing even though his amazing photography skills keep challenging me to try and do better with rather limited talent and his extensive recipe repertoire inspires me to try new cuisines and products.
Marina@ Picnic at Marina says
Awww, how sweet is that: “A fresh salad, good baguette, glass of wine and the best dinner partner – my wife.” Bravo, Charles! And thanks Maureen for introducing Charles to me, I found Five Euro Food some time ago through your blog and follow Charles since… His blog is more than just a blog: it is a bridge that connects me with Europe, with home… 🙂
That was definitely an “awww” moment for me too. 🙂