Authors: François Millo, Viktorija Todorovska
When I visit a new vacation spot, particularly one as captivating as Provence, I come home laden with gifts and souvenirs that remind me of my time away. My favorite ones are long-lasting and usable on a regular basis.
For example, I once stayed at a hotel where the in-room toothpaste was flavored with grapefruit. Though odd at first, I soon began looking forward to it. So on my way to the airport I stopped by a Drug Store and bought two or three tubes of the stuff. For months I was reminded of France at least twice a day!
If you like this idea, but aren’t sure you want Grapefruit-flavored dentifrice, you’ll find that a good regional cook book is an excellent alternative. It can provide a lifetime of experiences that will pull you back into vacation mode from the time you begin shopping for ingredients until you finish drying the last dish.
But finding a good one can be a challenge – even if the translation is adequate, old-world cooks often under-communicate techniques that they’re taught shortly after suckling but are unfamiliar to those outside the region. And books by New World authors often miss the authenticity you fell in love with in situ.
Enter Millo and Todorovska, the authors of “Provence Food & Wine, the Art of Living”. Born and raised in Provence, Millo is a talented photographer (not surprisingly, the photos in this book are captivating) and enthusiastic advocate of his region. His partner in this project is a Chicago-based cookbook author, food and wine educator, and owner of the food, wine and travel company www.oliviacooking.com. Together, they’ve put together a book that is part travel brochure, part history book, part photo book and part cookbook. All-in-all, it’s a nice way to spend an evening or two.
The recipes offer some easy dishes ideal for light mid-week meals as well as some more complex meals that are a better fit for a weekend, if your schedule looks anything like ours. But over-all, this is the best collection of regional dishes I’ve seen in my two decades of casual searching for such things, and for this I thank the authors.
As for the wine, the book comes with a helpful map of the Provence AOCs, and covers each one in enough detail to belie Todorovska’s wine educator chops. But the authors primary passion is clearly Provençal Rosé. And who can blame them?! These wines are dry, perfect for a hot summer day and, due to their good acidity and mid-weight body, pair beautifully with a huge range of dishes. Plus, they’ve been enjoying ~40% YOY sales growth over the past few years. So yes, they are very worthy of emphasis. If you were in pursuit of the coarse, spicy reds from this region, you’ll find they’ve gotten rather short shrift, however.
In summary, this book is not for everyone, but if you love Provence, if you love the food and wine of the region, and you want to bring them into your home on a regular basis, I don’t think you’ll ever be disappointed that you separated with the reasonable $20 fee – available at Surrey Books.
P.S. No compensation was received in exchange for this review. A complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher for my consideration, but the choice to review it was entirely mine.