I have eagerly awaited this, the second part of Carole Bumpus’ culinary tour searching for family and traditions at the French table, and I was not disappointed.
Carole and her good French Californian friend and translator Josiane Selvage begin this adventure by heading to the Somme, a now beautiful area which was the site of some of the most horrendous battles in WWI and WWII, and indeed even now, dotted throughout the countryside and coastal towns are the remains of the wartime bunkers, along with the memorials to the thousands who died there.
Then they carry on through the Nord-Pas-de-Calais to Dunkirk to meet with an old friend Veronique, and her mother, and thus their culinary journey begins as they discover the delights of cuisine pauvre or peasant food of France.
For those of us who love France and also who have a deep respect and interest in the tales of the older generations, this book is a real gem. Carole and Josiane are invited into many households on their travels, and they provide wonderful snapshots of the families, their history and that of the regions. The book is overflowing with descriptions of the wonderful regional produce and tales of times gone by.
Following the coast, the pair travel west, driving through Normandy and catching up with old friends. Near Mont St. Michel they stop off at the Manoir and are lucky enough to obtain an interesting interview with M. Barreaux, its owner and head chef. It is there that they are able to savor the delicacy of pré-salé d’agneau. These lambs (agneau) graze by the bay, consuming the salt-encrusted marsh grasses, and this is what gives their meat its unique flavor. Just one of the many exceptional local products they are lucky enough to sample on this amazing journey as they travel on through picturesque Brittany, with its breath-taking coastal views, wonderful architecture, and of course the delicious cuisine, before heading down to the Pays de la Loire.
The Pays de la Loire and the Loire Valley hold a special place in my heart because it has been my home for the last 16 years. Sampling its wonders is a daily pleasure, and I have enjoyed visiting the tuffeau cave homes, and the mushroom caves, in the area, taking home their produce to cook. However, I was fascinated to read about the truffle farms, with their truffle dogs (and pig,) and discover some of the uses of this world-renowned delicacy. The majestic chateaux and beautiful landscape of woods and vineyards truly comes alive through the author’s wonderfully descriptive writing, and it is no wonder that this incredible area steeped in history is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However France has a diverse landscape and soon the pair find themselves noticing that it has changed, first to rolling hills, and then more mountainous, as they arrive in the Auvergne region, the Massif Central. Here, as in all over France local produce is celebrated, from the scallops and oysters of the coast to the Auvergne’s Fête du Cochon where each year a pig is slaughtered and is the center of celebrations, as this is an important time of the year and a traditional part of village life.
This book captures the French people, their love of family and friends, their generosity, and their passion for sharing good quality fresh local food. The author has generously ended the book with a collection of some of the wonderful recipes for us to enjoy making in our kitchens, whilst embracing the flavors and traditions of French family life.
Throughout it, however, the devastating effect the World Wars have reeked on families, and communities is heart-breaking. Yet despite this these people have survived and carried on with fortitude. The tragedies have given strength to this nation, emboldened them with incredible comradeship, and inspired the bravery of the resistance.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this excellent book, and I am sure it will be enjoyed by anyone loving, France, cooking, traditions, and history.
About the Author:
A retired family therapist, Carole Bumpus began writing a culinary travel series when she stumbled upon the amazing stories of women, recipes and war in France. Her historical novel, A Cup of Redemption, was based on the poignant story of a French woman she had met and interviewed. It was published October 2014. Her unique companion cookbook, Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption was released August 2015 with the recipes from all the foods savored in the novel.
In addition to the cookbook, she is completing her original series of culinary travel books, Savoring the Olde Ways. The first of this series, Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Book One, is to be published August 27, 2019. The second of the series will follow in one year completing the original French tour. The third book, Searching for Family and Traditions at the Italian Table is scheduled for April 2021.
She has also had three short stories published in the California Writers Club – Fault Zone anthologies: Words from the Edge; Stepping up to the Edge and Over the Edge. She has received numerous writing awards including: Honorable Mention in fiction and also Runner-Up in cookbooks in the London Book Festival – 2015; Honorable Mention in fiction for A Cup of Redemption – Paris Book Festival – 2016; Bronze Medal – IPPY Award – Cover Design of A Cup of Redemption – 2016; Finalist – International Book Awards – A Cup of Redemption – Historical Fiction – 2016; Finalist – International Cookbook Awards – Recipe for Redemption – 2016 – www.carolebumpus.com
About the Book:
Join Carole Bumpus as she continues the culinary journey of Book One in Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, with her incomparable guide, Josiane, as they head north from Paris to Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Normandy, and Brittany, then drop into the Loire Valley before ending in the Auvergne.
Sample family favorites and regional delights such as Flemish Potjevlesh, Algerian-influenced chicken tagine, moules (mussels) in cider and cream, salt-encrusted Lamb Grevin, Far Brêton, and Pâté de Pomme de Terre. Enjoy the music and antics of local festivals like La Bande de Pecheur (Gang of Fisherman), Feast of St. John, and the Blessing of the Fleet. Discover the wonder of troglodyte caves, wineries, and truffle farms in the Loire Valley. Then travel to Josiane’s family home, where you, too, can discover why food and family time are considered sacred in the Auvergne. And, all along the route, witness the impact WWI and WWII on the families profiled. Even seventy-five years later, the legacy of war remains―and yet, incredibly, the gift that each generation has handed down has been gratitude and a deep understanding of the importance of family.
A compilation of personal stories, memorable moments, family secrets, and mouth-watering recipes, this French culinary travelogue is sure to find a prized place on the bookshelf of readers who love France―its food, its people, and its history.