Cookbook: A Table In Provence

"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 Proven├žale 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.

Sample page
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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