Among the spring’s most striking bookstore releases is Monique Duveau’s book, Vivre la campagne. 70 gourmet and generous recipes in the colors of the countryside (photographs José Esteves, Éditions de la Martinière, 256 p., €32) sets the tone… or rather the palette. Because throughout the book, color is queen and comes in a thousand shimmering shades on the tables, the bouquets of flowers and the author’s gourmet recipes: the green of a shoulder of lamb with garlic bears, the orange quince paste of José his companion, the yellow of a lemon pie, the red of stuffed tomatoes, the pink and purple of a wreath half-fig half-raisin, the brown of a porcini mushroom tart or the white of delicate beaten eggs.
A long-time journalist and culinary stylist for the magazines Côté Sud and Côté Ouest, Monique Duveau celebrates her beloved Perche and the old school which she has transformed into a little paradise with “a delicious garden, priest’s pears, lime trees and hornbeams, chattering magpies, all in the middle of a village, on the edge of the fields, three church bells ringing, three steps from a walk in the woods, and a few minutes as the crow flies of the forest of Bellême…”. Throughout the pages, she also reveals her passion for bouquets of flowers sumptuously composed and staged according to the colors of the season.
Another equally shimmering world is that of Alice Roca, author of the Alice in food blog and the eponymous book (First Cuisine, 380 p., €29.95). This former fashion designer based in Normandy, very active on social networks (she shares videos every week) has imagined over the seasons a kind of very practical joyful manual for simmering in harmony with nature. She advocates a healthy, gourmet, anti-gaspi and full of poetry cuisine; his spring rolls are dressed in nasturtium, primrose and calendula flowers, as are his goat’s cheese terrines or flowery focaccias. Special mention for the “jars” pages which blow a wind of creativity on preserves, syrups, coulis and other jams.
Finally, second hand. 32 festive tables found & as many recipes that go with it, by François Motte (photographs Caroline Faccioli, Hachette Pratique, 288 p., €35), a book in which I participated, puts the spotlight, through 50 recipes and 32 tables, treasures unearthed in flea markets in small villages and discoveries in family homes in the countryside, which are so many pretexts to rediscover the beauty of yesteryear, to have fun with ugliness and to sublimate kitsch. Throughout the seasons, calendar celebrations and moments of life, François Motte distils his advice for setting beautiful tables with linen tablecloths or flamboyant waxes, including spectacular slip dishes with trompe-l’oeil d asparagus or variegated fish. The author of this book also gives some ideas for associating colors and shapes, daring to mix and match genres, eras and styles, and indulge in the diversion of codes, rules and objects, good taste as well as bad.
In conclusion to this trip to the countryside, we have a good reason to rejoice: in our urban interiors, we have the great ideas to transform our feasts in the cities into feasts in the fields!