It will soon be summer. We start to muse over al fresco dining and lighter fare. Ingredients with colour and freshness will take centre stage and we look toward the Mediterranean for inspiration, and perhaps to a French chef for some help. We need Flavors from the French Mediterranean.
Three-star Michelin Chef Gérald Passedat was born in Marseilles on the French Mediterranean coast. It’s a region famed for its seafood, vegetables, fruits and herbs – everything one might need to conjure up vibrant recipes that just happen to be healthy.
This delightfully photographed book presents eighty tempting and easy-to-prepare recipes that showcase the culinary abundance of the south of France. They are not necessarily costly ingredients and all readily available, taking advantage of summer seasonality and freshness.
I could quite happily graze my way through the whole book, being enticed either by the ingredients or the pictures. Octopus and Jols Tempura: I had no idea that a jol is a small fish found near Marseilles – I am sure one could use whitebait as a substitute. This is a beautiful dish served in a newspaper – a French newspaper, obviously. Camargue Black Rice Paella is another dramatic dish using seafood – cuttlefish in this case. This would make a memorable centrepiece.
French flair for patisserie
Skate-filled Zucchini is another stunner. Skate is a much-underrated fish, although once popular in traditional fish and chip shops. It has a unique texture which doesn’t flake like most other fish flesh, but has strands instead. It’s a well-flavoured fish and pairs deliciously with the courgettes which grow in such profusion even in the UK’s unpredictable weather.
Perhaps some of my favourites from this book are the classic and sumptuous desserts. There are three tarts that are remarkable and demonstrate the French flair for patisserie: one has a filling of figs which grow in such quantities in the south of France; a second of oranges that cover the trees in early autumn and top a tart that glistens like stained glass; the lemon tart has a tangy filling and a garnish of candied lemon slices for extra impact. Any of these would make a classy finish to even the most formal of dinner parties.
This is a recipe book for the accomplished cook but equally for those who would like to be. The photography is first class and shows the colourful face of Flavors from the French Mediterranean.
Flavors from the French Mediterranean
Author: Gérald Passedat
Published by: Flammarion
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018