The meaning of life, lies in love and friendship - these qualities are best expressed at the table.
Once I opened Lulu’s Provençal Table, I realized that what I was holding was more than an average cook book. It is an ode to French Provençal living.
Richard Olney is the author of Lulu’s Provençal Table. He moved to Provence in 1961 and met Lulu and Lucien Peyraud, the proprietors of Domaine Tempier. Domaine Tempier is a 38 hectare vineyard and an ancient dwelling, nestled on a hillside, not far from Marseilles. It is a family run wine estate which remains true to it’s past.
Lulu’s Provençal Table begins with a little history. The reader is transported to Provence and learns about the history of the family, vineyard, the area, the harvest and the local produce.
We are then served up the menu’s (in both English and French). The autumn and winter menu’s are filled with warm comforting foods, whilst spring and summer are lighter and fresher. We are even get a glimpse into the foods served at harvest and Christmas times.
It is not until we reach page 40 that we finally see the list of Lulu’s Kitchen Recipes. Recipes to fill the belly as well as the senses. Each recipe includes the usual ingredients and method, but we also read a little bit of a story with each.
For example, aioli (garlic mayonnaise). We learn that Lulu serves aioli with many different meats and vegetables. She always serves three different versions of the aioli. One is for les estrangers, or people from other cities/countries. The second one is for the Provencaux (the locals) and the third aioli is for Lucien (her husband) who likes a little bit of extra “bite” in his aioli.
Aioli Sauce Recipe (my abridged version)
Large pinch of coarse sea salt
1 head (more or less to taste) of garlic. Cloves separated, peeled and crushed.
2 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil
1-2 teaspoons water
Lulu uses a mortar and wooden pestle.
Pound the salt and garlic to a smooth liquid paste. Add the egg yolks and stir briskly until they lighten in colour. Begin to add the oil in a tiny trickle to the side of the mortar so that the oil flows gradually into the oil and garlic mixture (while turning constantly). When the aioli is quite thick, add a teaspoon of water to loosen it while turning and continue adding oil until you have obtained the desired quantity and consistency. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Lulu’s Provençal Table is a cross between a cook book, diary and tour guide. It’s an interesting read and one which will inspire the desire to cook and comfort.
Lulu’s Provençal Table is available at Booktopia and Amazon.