Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Salads for Madame Bovary

Whilst looking for some Christmas table inspiration I came across this wonderful French dining room.

And I thought - I know just the woman for this room: the highly imaginative, but unhappy, Emma Bovary, the heroine of Gaustave Flaubert's beautiful book, written in 1854, which I am re-reading at the moment. This book was listed in the top two best books ever written (along with War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy) in a poll of contemporary writers in 2007.   

This was an excellent book for backpacking around the regional cities of France as a young girl, accompanied only by some mournful New Order music on my 'Walkman' (these large plastic portable tape decks seem so dated now don't they?) .  

This room looks like just the place Emma, enticed by the money lender Lheureux, may have excitedly spent money she didn't have decorating, in an effort to make things and in particular, her life, more interesting.    Really, who needs Eat Pray Love when you have a book like this to delve into a complicated female psyche?  After all, Emma Bovary tries all the same things that that woman does from Eat Pray Love (am I the only person on the planet to have found the EPL woman appallingly self indulgent?*):  turns to religion, has affairs, meditates on the meaning of life and indulges in romantic fantasies.

(Isabelle Huppert as Madame Bovary in Claude Chabrol's adaptation from 1991)

For Emma Bovary, in this dining room, I would serve salads.    Something delicate but well flavoured. 

Which coincides nicely with the no 1 item on my Christmas list this year, Salades by Sydney chef Damien Pignolet:

I really am very easy to buy for at Christmas.  Just a few cookbooks and I am a happy girl.  And this one looks to be a cracker.   So Santa, if you are reading this, please can you oblige me? 

Here are some of Pignolet's salads to entice you into summer (or winter!)

(cauliflower, beetroot and celeriac with horseradish cream)

(nicoise salade)

(goats cheese fritters, baby beetroot and figs)

(warm salad of scallops, sorrel croutons, grilled red pepper and witlof)

I think I could pretty much happily live on salads for the rest of my life.

(* I am aware I have probably made some enemies by this comment.  Please don't judge me by my loathing of this book..... I am of course just a lone voice struggling against the tide).


Engracia said...

I too Jane absolutely loathed (right word) the Eat, Love Blah Blah. Never met someone so boringly self-centred (give me Bovary anytime)and whoever her editor was, needs to reconsider his/her career. As for Salades, it is my current everyday book, waited for ages on Book Depository but got tired of waiting as it was out of stock, so I paid the bucks and have been happy ever since. I hope you get it in your stocking.

Makeminemidcentury said...

you are the quintessential epicurean!

And your blog is for expressing your opinion! Bravo! (I haven't read the EPL book or seen the movie so I can't comment).

Jenny said...

Bought the book, EPL, couldn't get into it. Tried to see the movie but arrived at the wrong time. Guess I'm not supposed to. I do love the kitchen you posted.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I do love Madame Bovary however and this post as well. brava!

brismod said...

Well, Jane, some wise person said that a blog is not a democracy. Bravo for your opinion. Mind you, I haven't read or seen the movie either...
That nicoise is mouth watering. Good cook book tip. Thanks. xx

Sarah B said...

I've not read the book but it sounds like I should. I have read EPL and just couldn't believe that anyones life could be like that!
Those salads look amazing - I paticularly like the look of those goats cheese fritters. Yum!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Oh Jane,
I love a good salad. I would eat them everyday, even in this freezing weather that we are having.....and I think that Mme. Bovary would have loved them too....especially in that beautiful French dining room. XXXX

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane a marvelous post. I hadn't thought of the woman in EPL as self-indulgent but I can understand your thought. I do hope Santa was listening to your request. What a marvelous book.

Sending you holiday cheer ~

Mise said...

I'm with you on EPL - I took a look and found it distasteful, that me me genre that's the same, I suppose, as our blogs to some extent, but we don't charge for the blogs, nor do we presume. And Madame Bovary is a splendid read, and reminds me a lot of Edith Wharton's fallen women novels. I suppose there's no such thing any more as a fallen woman.

Samantha said...

Me too on the salads. Yum.

quintessence said...

Great post - love the dining room and Mme. Bovary - it is on many admired editors' favorite book lists. And the salads look divine - put a fig in it and I'm happy!

count it all joy said...

I love your posts, Jane. This one has everything! Gorgeous food, controversy and lovely homewares. No wonder you're such a favourite:)

You've inspired me to read Madame Bovary. It's been on my "to read" list far too long. Meredy xo

Anonymous said...

I threw EPL across the room quite a few times! Aaarrgh. You are not alone Jane. And i bought Salades yesterday, after much internal monologuing as to whether i really needed another cookbook. But i am glad i did. Lou

MFAMB said...

me too!!! i wanted to bitch slap the whiny self indulgent eat pray love woman!!
love the room. and have been meaning to read madame bovary for a while.

24 Corners said...

I've not read Madame's been on my list forever, I can't seem to tear myself away from the Bronte's though at the moment, one day! The Salad's" book truly looks wonderful...that goat cheese and fig salad keeps calling to me...beautiful (as is the dining room).

I'm sure Santa's taking care of your are such a "good girl", how could he not!
xo J!

(had no desire to read or see EPL...still don't!)

A Farmer's Wife said...

I didn't love Eat, Pray, Love. I felt like telling her to just get on with it and stop overthinking... (Ok - so I really just wanted to slap her.)

Beautiful, beautiful dining room.

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