Thursday, September 22, 2005
"Now I really want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that the night is still more richly coloured than the day, having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If you only pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are citron~yellow, others have a pink glow, or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it will be clear that putting little white dots on a blue-black surface is not enough."
~Vincent Van Gogh writing to his sister, Wilhelmina~
I bet you're wondering what a painting has to do with food? Well, although Van Gogh was Dutch, he spent part of his later years in Provence and, to a Provencal, his stomach is second to nothing!
I must say, I love this painting for too many reasons to list but one of them being that it was done from memory and supposedly while Van Gogh was in asylum at Saint Remy in June 1889. I'm no art critic or historian but, unlike many others,I can't help but feel, regardless of the time of year it was painted, regardless of what season it seems to depict, that the "whorls" coming from the left across the upper part of the painting are really Van Gogh's "vision" of what the mistral must look like.
I don't begin to have time to go into how enamoured I am with Provence but it ranks up there with my love for my family!
Here is my very favorite Provencal recipe~also contained in the "Family Favorite Recipes" page.
Tapenade is a popular food in the south of France. There are entire stalls in the outdoor markets which sell nothing but tapenade. Tapenade is basically an olive spread with one rule; you cannot call olive spread "tapenade" unless it contains capers.
Why? In the old Provencal dialect, the word for caper is "tapeno", hence the term "tapenade".
Makes about 2 cups
1 c pitted Nicoise olives
1 c pitted ripe California olives
2 t anchovy paste
1 t brandy
1 T capers-drained
1 T honey
2 t Dijon mustard
1 t lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic-minced
Combine all in a blender and puree until smooth and spreadable. Serve with rounds of toasted French bread.
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J'adore Provence aussi! My husband enjoys tapenade crackers and crudites when he comes home from work. Have you seen the four videos of "A Year in Provence" based on Peter Mayle's books? Delightful! Also, "My Father's Glory" and "My Mother's Castle"? These are two of my favorite French movies.
I enjoy reading and trying your recipes, Anne! The fact that you claim elegance and beauty as part of a happy home and family life is most inspiring!
The Van Gogh is stunning, oui?
*Gasp!* There are videos? I am so lacking in information sometimes! I'll have to find these!
I actually wrote to Peter Mayle 2 years ago and the wonderful and gracious man wrote back~no form letter or postcard, a real handwritten response. It was one of those moments in life that are unforgettable. (I will dig it out and blog it.)
I adore Peter Mayle since I tend to live vicariously through him. I count on his writing to keep me "fed".
The Van Gogh is priceless, it's on my mouse pad :) What a sad and wonderful man! I think there is some connection in the brain that is lost when one is truly gifted that actually makes them seem "crazy" when it really is just that the "normal" connection is so traffic-jammed with flowing creativity that normalcy just has no chance in getting through.
Well, this is a blog in itself~excuse me.
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