Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart. food for thought.

"Amour-sur-Belle, a village situated in South-West France, so ugly that even the English refuse to live there."

When Guillaume Ladoucette, the only barber in Amour-sur-Belle, realises that his business is not doing as well as it used to, he puts it down to the march of time.
His clients are all either going bald or have, to quote Shakespeare's Hamlet, "shuffled off this mortal coil".
What he doesn't know is that quite a few of the men from the village have defected to a barber in a nearby town who knows all the latest styles, including one rather strange one “that looks suspiciously like a pine cone”.
When the matchmaker is left in charge of the village patisserie havoc ensues when he gives all the little cakes away
Although he himself has never married, his first and only love Emilie Fraisse was lost to him many years before, Guillaume Ladoucette decides to give up his barbering business and set himself up as Amour-sur-Belle’s first matchmaker.
The exploits of Guillaume and the men and women that he “matches” had me laughing out loud at times, I really enjoyed this book.
That may be because I'm an English woman, living in a not very pretty village, in rural France.
When "the man from the council" arrives to tell the villagers about the water restrictions that are about to come into force, I could picture the scene, and populate it with characters I have known!
Like many of us living in rural France Guillame Ladoucette grows vegetables in a potager.

"A high priest of the cult of lunar gardening, he undertook no task in the potager, no matter how small, unless the moon was passing in front of the correct zodiacal constellation"

"the optimal time to concern oneself with leaf crops such as lettuce and spinach was when it was passing in front of Cancer, Pisces or Scorpio".

"He naturally endorsed the teaching that there were four days a month when only a fool would work in his potager"

The Matchmaker of Perigord is something of a gourmand, despite having a cassoulet simmering on top of his stove which his mother began over thirty-one years before.
“Love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time, and determination. Some bits are delicious, while others might be a bit rancid and make you wince”.

The Senior Partner and I are not lovers of cassoulet but I thought I’d prepare one for this review.
I consulted several recipes, all of which included tomatoes in the list of ingredients.
Whether or not to add this particular ingredient is the cause of much hilarity in the book, I was perplexed.
What should I do?
In the end I cheated.

I bought a large can of the famous "Cassoulet de Castelnaudary au canard" and added a small can of Italian (!) plum tomatoes.
The result was much better than either of us anticipated, in fact SP cleared his plate, quelle surprise!

"He rinsed the salad and tomatoes thoroughly. Arranging them in  a bowl, he placed it on a tray along with a fork, a small blue jug of dressing and a white napkin with his initials.
He then added a glass of disappointing Bergerac, which he had vowed never to buy again, but which he might as well finish. Next to it he placed a packet of his favourite Cabecou goat's cheese."
One foodie treat that we do enjoy, and have in common with the Matchmaker, is goat’s cheese.
Slices of warm goat’s cheese on a bed of mixed salad leaves, with a few toasted walnuts sprinkled over and a light mustardy viniagrette, is something we often have for supper.

Add a glass or two of red wine, a thinly sliced baguette and we are content.
Click on the links below to see what
thought of The Matchmaker of Perigord.
bon appétit.


LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Maggie, I love the way you have reviewed this delightful sounding book by staging photographs to go within the post.

Sarah said...

Maggie, I'm craving that huge eclair that is sitting at my spot at the table. LOL Great job! Love seeing all your photos and thinking about you living in a small rural French village. I can see how you truly could relate to some of the humor in this book. ~ Sarah

Mary said...

Maggie~ I'm so excited to see your review of this quirky book this morning!

I LOVE that you included photos from your potager! The lunar gardener passages were a hoot~

How convenient you can find cassoulet in a can~ quelle surprise for me! Your goat cheese salad with walnuts sounds delicious~ we're big fans of goat cheese at my house too!

"I'm an English woman, living in a not very pretty village, in rural France"...I had to chuckle. that true? Not very pretty~ I can't imagine...

Merci for joining in the fun at FFT~ I'll add a link back to my post :)

once in a blue moon said...

oh maggie i love your take on this! i wanted walnuts too, none to be had! i love how we have so many of the same quotes!

the potage... oh my how much do i love seeing all this! i was so intrigued by the lunar gardening, glad it wasn't lost!

so funny you slipped in the tomatoes!

loved your review, i did some research on the author, she is english but lived in france to finish the book off, she said that so much came from real life in the villages.

thank you so much for playing with food for thought, i can't help but smile to see all the fun everyone shared :)

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I am absolutely going to look for that cassoulet. I probably won't find it here in the Rockies, but I will probably be able to find an online source.

Lovely photos!!!

TheBookGirl said...

I like food related offerings, and this sounds like a lovely one.

vicki said...

This was a fun post to read. A great review ( always) and recipe to boot! I loved the garden photos! Thanks for another great read!

Nan said...

Such a fun and interesting review of a book that I now HAVE to read! Thank you. Do you know about the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker set in that same region? I really enjoyed the first two which I wrote about, if you are interested:

Thanks for this wonderful posting. I so loved it and all the pictures.

The Silver Bunny said...

What an extraordinarily clever way to review books ! I am putting your blog on my (new-born)list of blogs.

Jeanie said...

This looks fun, but what I really adore are all the fabulous photographs! And I have to say, it's really something that you prepared something you're not terribly fond of to help illustrate! I hope it was worth the effort. (I AM rather fond of cassoulet!)