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King, Shirley

Dining with Marcel Proust: A Practical Guide to French Cuisine of the Belle Epoque

Dining with Marcel Proust: A Practical Guide to French Cuisine of the Belle Epoque

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From the publisher

Marcel Proust's literary masterpiece À la Recherche du Temps Perdu overflows with brilliant, minutely described accounts of food and drink drawn from the author's vivid memories. After all, it was the taste of one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, dipped into a cup of tea, that first impelled Proust into "a remembrance of things past." He wrote with relish and exactitude about Françoise, the family cook in Illiers-Combray, the restaurant at the Grand Hôtel Balbec, meals at Rivebelle, La Raspelière, and the Guermantes' in Paris.

Shirley King, a professional chef and lifelong lover of Proust's works, was inspired to draw these two strands together into this tribute to a master: a collection of recipes representing the best of classical French cuisine from Proust's belle époque, ranging from the sophisticated elaboration of lobster à l'américaine or truffled partridge to the simplicity of croque-monsieur. King combines practical instruction, quotations from Proust's works, and rich illustrations in a way that will charm every lover of Proust and every cook.

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From Chef Scott

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This book is not just a cookbook; it's a vivid re-creation of the lavish and nuanced dining experiences of the Belle Epoque era, brought to life through the lens of Proust's exquisite prose.

From the outset, the reader is immersed in the opulent world of early 20th-century France, with its rich gastronomic traditions and sophisticated palates. The book beautifully captures the essence of Proust's work, translating the sensory experiences from his writing into tangible, delectable recipes that one can create in their own kitchen. It’s a unique concept that brilliantly bridges the gap between literature and culinary art.

The recipes in the book are thoughtfully curated, reflecting the dishes that were popular in the Belle Epoque period, and often mentioned in Proust's writings. Each recipe is a gateway to experiencing the flavors and textures that were savored by the high society of that time. The dishes range from elegant hors d'oeuvres and sumptuous entrées to decadent desserts, each meticulously detailed to ensure authenticity and flavor.

What makes this book truly enchanting is the way it captures the spirit of Proust's writing. The author not only provides recipes but also delves into the historical and cultural context of each dish, offering insights into the culinary landscape of the Belle Epoque. This background information enriches the cooking experience, allowing the reader to fully appreciate the significance of each dish within the broader tapestry of French cuisine and culture.

The practicality of the recipes is another commendable aspect of the book. Despite the historical nature of the dishes, the instructions are clear and adapted for the modern kitchen, making it possible for today's cooks to recreate the luxurious feasts of the past. The book strikes a perfect balance between historical authenticity and contemporary practicality.

The photography and illustrations in the book are also noteworthy, capturing the elegance and grandeur of the era. Each image is carefully composed, reflecting the artistry and sophistication of Belle Epoque dining and adding an aesthetic pleasure to the reader’s journey.

It's a book that not only guides you through an array of exquisite recipes but also transports you to a bygone era of luxury and refinement. This book is a must-have for lovers of French cuisine, history enthusiasts, and fans of Marcel Proust, offering a unique and delightful experience that transcends the boundaries of a traditional cookbook.