cover image The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence

The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence

Georgeanne Brennan, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1235-1

Just when it seems that Proven al cuisine is almost old-fashioned, Brennan makes it new again. She and her husband bought their home in the fuzzily defined region of Haute Provence in 1970. While their children were small, they lived off their farm, keeping goats and pigs and selling goat cheese locally. Their involvement in local agriculture, described in essays on, for example, the making of olive oil, sets this fine book apart from run-of-the-mill memoirs of expatriate life in Tuscany and Provence. Only an insider is likely to know that ""French pharmacists are trained in mycology and enthusiastically identify mushrooms brought to them."" The recipes are excellent, offering toothsome and generally simple-to-fix dishes that highlight the flavors of Provence. Chapters are arranged around ingredients such as wild mushrooms and truffles or nuts. Each begins with an essay and a few basic techniques (e.g., the chapter on cheese explains how to make flavored cheese spreads). Fresh flavors abound in dishes like Galettes of Wild Greens, and Warm Polenta Crepes with Peaches and Fresh Goat Cheese. Among the desserts is Green Almond Ice Cream. Heartier foods include Baked Pheasant with Chestnuts, Cepes, and Cabbage; Fried Ravioli with Garlic-Spinach Filling; and Baked Pasta with Chanterelles. Brennan's graceful blend of agricultural knowledge, food combinations, flavor descriptions and clear recipe directions is outstanding. (Oct.)