August 19, 2010

Julia, Did You Read Clementine?

A friend turned me on to this little treasure!
First published in October, 1943, Clementine in the Kitchen is a great read! Did Julia Child read this tiny book before she set upon changing the US palate for French cuisine teaching us how to play in the kitchen?

Clementine, from Burgundy, rustic and delightful, became the cook for an American family, the Becks, living in Paris during World War II. This is the story of Clementine's guidance of the Becks through all aspects of traditional French preparation of food, eating it, and enjoying it. Phineas Beck shared the family's gastronomic journey with Gourmet Magazine readers. Henry Stahlhut illustrated the saga with whimsical drawings and portrayals of Clementine in her kitchen, shopping for food, with a few truffle hunting pigs.

It being fruit harvest time here in Montana, I share one recipe from Clementine's notebook of Burgundy country food traditions. The recipe isn't a dish but a bottle. When Clementine noticed the espaliered pear and apple trees on the Beck house south wall, she exclaimed, "Ah, Monsieur, you have a fine installation there for imprisoned fruit, as one does it in Normandy."
The secret is simple. You force the fruit to grow in a bottle. As the intensified, sun-drenched pear or apple outgrows its companions on the rest of the tree, the fruit will become, eventually, a tasty addition to brandy, Armagnac or apple brandy you add to the bottle. The fruit will be preserved for years as long as it is covered with liquid.

Here, an abbreviated coverage of this book, for sure, but hopefully, enough to pique your interest in searching out a copy, at: http://www.abebooks.com/ where I found mine. Clementine's recipes are sprinkled throughout the book, written in narrative form and are rooted in long French cooking traditions.
From my kitchen to yours...pumpkin blossom cozying up to fresh mint.

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