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Cookbook: A Table In Provence

Categories: Cookbooks
provence page_opt.jpg
Cover illustration by Leslie Forbes
"the same cicadas sang in Caesar's reign,
upon the walls the same sun clings and climbs."
--Vladimir Nabokov

Any cookbook that opens with a Nabokov quote promises to
be something special. A Table in Provence turns out to be just that. It was first published in 1987 as a follow-up to author/illustrator Leslie Forbe's A Table in Tuscany. The beat-up nature of the cover in photo attests that this is a book I've cooked with. The recipes are authentic (with gram measurements converted into ounces), each chapter revolving around a specific village of the region. The 160-pager includes instructions for preparing terrines,stuffed sardines, soup au pistou, sea bream in salt crust, goat cheese truffles in olive pate, polenta, herbes de Provence, and sweet Provençale flat bread, among many
other classic country French recipes. But the real charm of the book, and what makes it unique, is the hand-written font and Forbe's evocative illustrations.

A recipe for Salade de Poivrons (sweet pepper salad) follows.

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Sample page
Salade de Poivrons

Grilling the peppers to remove their skins helps give this simple but decorative salad a subtly sweet taste that contrasts interestingly with the piquancy of the olives.

3-4 sweet peppers, mixed red, green & yellow
3 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. tarragon vinegar or lemon juice
handful of fresh thyme or basil, roughly chopped salt & pepper
generous handful of ripe black olives.

Heat the peppers over a flame or under a hot grill, turning frequently, until all the skin blisters and can be easily peeled off. This is a fiddly process but worth it. Remove the pepper stems and seeds and cut in thin strips lengthwise. Toss together with all the other ingredients and leave in a warm plate for 1-2 hours. Toss again just before serving.

A Table in Provence was originally published in Great Britain by Webb & Bower LTD. It is produced by Johnson Editions Limited. My copy, which my parents picked up for me while traveling, has a listed price of 12.95 pounds. There are new copies on Amazon for $9.70.

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