Cooking for Picasso, by Camille Aubray, was a particularly enjoyable novel. As Margaret Atwood says, "A tasty blend of romance, mystery and French cooking. There's Picasso exposed, the French Rivera, food, passion and love, difficulties overcome by terrific characters. What more could you ask?
From the Publishers:
"This captivating novel is inspired by a little-known interlude in the artist’s life.
The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request—to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.
Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life—and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.
New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future."
There was plenty of delicious sounding food mentioned in the course of the story. Well after all, chefs are involved. I thought to cook up something Ondine made in the book for Picasso, who preferred hearty, peasant type foods, reminiscent of his mother's cooking and his boyhood in Spain. So, Daube de Boeuf Provencal. Basically, a slow cooked beef stew. But with those hints from the South of France; lots of red wine, orange zest, olives, thyme and bay. I pretty much improvised, with some clues from Martha. Her version of Daube de Boeuf is here. The beef I bought (Hawaiian grass fed and labeled stewing beef) came out lovely and fork tender, so flavorful, after the slow cook of 3 hours in my Le Creuset. Perfect served on egg noodles, with a bit of salad and a nice glass of red.