For French Fridays this week, I’m sharing a recently-published cookbook that will help bring a little sunshine to your day (especially important if it’s “feels like 7˚C” this morning just days after it “felt like 36˚C” !!!). Provence, the cookbook focuses on the cuisine of the Provence region, and is written by Caroline Rimbert Craig, a London-based writer whose family hails from the region.In this book she is sharing recipes so you can “bring a bit of this magical place into your own home and kitchens.”
From the publisher:
Provence is the fruit and vegetable garden of France, where much of its most beautiful produce is grown. These ingredients, combined with Provence’s unique identity, position, and history have resulted in a cuisine full of heart, balance, and soul–a cuisine that showcases its peoples’ reverence for the produce, the changing seasons, and the land.
Caroline Rimbert Craig’s maternal family comes from the southern foothills of Mont Ventoux, where the sun beats hard and dry, but aromatic herbs, vines, and fruit trees prosper. This is her guide to cooking the Provençal way, for those who want to eat simply but well, who love to cook dishes that rhyme with the seasons, and who want to recreate the flavors of the Mediterranean at home, wherever that may be.
With stunning color photographs to accompany the recipes, the book is also interspersed with shots of Provence’s beautiful landscapes, reflecting the region’s rich culinary culture.
“I love cookbooks organised by season” was the comment more than one person left me when I shared this book on my Instagram stories recently. It’s not something you see all that often but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense especially, if like the French, your shopping and cooking is dictated by what’s in season. “To cook well, we must adjust and tweak according to what is good and nice,” says Rimbert Craig.
The book includes a section on The Provençal Larder – simple staples for the kitchen that will set you up for success with these recipes. There’s nothing fussy or fancy about these ingredients and it’s interesting to see just how many of the recipes rely on having these ingredients (good quality ones) at hand. If you have great olive oil and vinegar and there are wonderful fresh salad leaves on the market, you’ve got yourself the makings of the start of any Provençal meal, for example. In this section, there is a small list of essential equipment as well and I had to laugh when I saw a salad spinner listed as a must-have. From renting properties all around France (and now renting one out ourselves), I know that a salad spinner is pretty much guaranteed to be in many rental properties and is, indeed, I believe, included in the “must have” list for properties listed on the Gîtes de France site, such is the importance of salad in the French meal!
The recipes are traditional Provençal home dishes, you won’t find fussy haute cuisine here. Classics like Soupe au Pistou, Oeufs Mimosa, Salade Frisée, Caviar d’aubergines, Grand Aoïli, Ratatouuille, Tomates Provençale and so many more... the recipe list reads like a “Who’s Who?” of traditional Provençal dishes. These are the foods of Rimbert Craig’s childhood, gleaned from years of watching and helping in the kitchen, taking notice of when recipes were adjusted and why. None of the recipes are particularly long or complicated and many of them only contain a handful of ingredients and what I really love about this book is the backstory behind many of the recipes. The book starts in Spring and ends with Christmas and end-of-year festivities so it reads like a journal of seasonal eating. It literally is “a year in Provence” through recipes.
The photography is beautifully evocative and will bring you right to the Provençal table. Like the recipes, the photos are very unfussy (in a good way, not overstyled) and showcase both the food and the place so very well. There are some lovely lifestyle images throughout as well, adding to the journal-like quality of the book, making it feel like a little bit like a scrapbook of “good things we ate on our trip to Provençe”.
If you love French food and France, Provence the Cookbook deserves a place on your kitchen counter but would be equally at home on your coffee table or even your bedside table as a book that will whisk you away to Provence with the turn of a page. A lovely read.
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a copy of Provence the Cookbook from the publisher for review purposes. I have not been compensated for writing this post.
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