08 July 2009

The Art of Cuisine

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was an artist…in the kitchen as well as in print.

Toulouse-Lautrec was a party animal who loved food, drink and fast women. The poet Paul Leclercq said of his friend:
“He was a great gourmand. He always carried a little grater and a nutmeg to flavor the glasses of port he drank. He loved to talk about cooking and knew of many rare recipes for making the most standard dishes, for in this, as in all else, Lautrec had a hatred of useless frills. And like a good Southerner, the more he valued straightforward cooking, the more he despised the doubtful and pretentious chemistry of restaurants and palace hotels.”

Who knew Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a Southerner! Perhaps it is the "South" of France, but Southerner still. It was another friend, Maurice Joyant, who is responsible for collecting the recipes that Toulouse-Lautrec invented and gathered from friends and acquaintances. His most valuable contribution to the culinary realm may be his "invention" of the cocktail nosh, for it is Toulouse-Lautrec who is often given credit for originating the fashion of cocktail food.

I don’t know if this would be a good amuse-bouche to have with a lovely chardonnay, but give it try next September.

Stewed Marmots

Having killed some marmots sunning themselves belly up in the sun with their noses in the air one sunrise in September, skin them and carefully put aside the mass of fat which is excellent for rubbing into the bellies of pregnant women, into the knees, ankles, and painful joints of sprains, and into the leather of shoes.
Cut up the marmot and treat it like stewed hare which has a perfume that is unique and wild.

Clearly, this why we like the French. In America we might be tempted to call these little guys groundhogs. How positively unappealing! But "Marmot" it sounds so lovely, even thought the translation from the Old French probably means "mountain mouse." Still mountain mouse verses ground hog -- tough call.

Lest you be running around this sunny September sunrise without a clue -- behold the sunning marmot.

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