caviar d'aubergines (kah-vee-ahr doh-behr-zheen)
: eggplant caviar
"...profiter des bontés de cette généreuse saison des récoltes et courir acheter aussi des paniers d'aubergines et de courgettes, pour... ratatouille et ... caviar d'aubergines." --from Le Soleil
A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse
I fell in love with mousse before caviar. In the first case "mousse" was a charming street in Marseilles... and "caviar" was what was waiting for me at the end of that winding road, just a French football field from the sea.
There, in my future mother-in-law's kitchenette on Rue des Mousses, I watched as she hashed, pounded, and sweated -- putting all her concentration into cooking, her mind not having healed just yet. I watched, as droplets fell from her wet brow into the mixing bowl below, only to disappear into the roasted vegetables before the latter were pulverized. If only pain could be broken into as many morsels.
After the sweaty chore, my mother-in-law would sit on the end of her bed and cry and I, newly exported from America, would watch wide-eyed.
It occurred to me to share with her all 24 years of my growing knowledge base... based principally on positive thinking... with heaping of hallelujah, a gallon of gospel... and a ounce or two of Epictitus:
"Where there's a will there's a way!" I would say, encouraging my mother-in-law to snap out of it. "You can do all things...." I'd sing.
But like all artists--literary, culinary, or other--my mother-in-law was going through a blue period. A French blue period (which was doubly blue... or doubly negative). She coped as she could and coping meant cooking -- and not trusting in an "otherhood". That is when I learned that my mother-in-law was an atheist. How, I wondered, could one cure this?
I looked into my cure-all bag, and soon saw that I was all out of tricks... and so I sat down beside her and filled my heart with sticks. When the sharp stick ends began to poke through my now bleeding heart--
...that what was missing before, was my ability to empathize.
* * *
* * *
Last week I received a letter from my mother-in-law in which she thanked me for "ce temps que tu m'as accordé alors que Maxime était haut comme 3 pommes... je recevais des courages de toi...".*
As I re-read the tender letter, I take a moment to treasure my "incurable" atheist : she is a gift to me in spite of our differing beliefs. I have learned so much from her and, I hope, reciprocally, she from evangelical me.
* * *
Post note: I was looking up a recipe for caviar d'aubergine (that is what my mother-in-law was making me, in the opening to today's story)... when I happened upon this treasure of a video. If you love characters, as I do, then you will appreciate this informal Frenchwoman. Watch her pulverize garlic with the palm of her Provençale hand! (if you are reading this edition via email, you will need to click over to the blog to view the clip).
Update: Do not miss my Caviar D'Aubergine easy, easy recipe, click here
en lin = on linen; ce temps que tu m'as accordé alors que Maxime était haut comme 3 pommes... je recevais des courages de toi... = this time that you have given me back when Max was "tall as three apples"... I received courage from you
Paris Metro Subway Tea or Kitchen Dish Towel
La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking.
First published in 1927 to educate French housewives in the art of classical cooking, LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE has since become the bible of French cooking technique, found on every kitchen shelf in France. A housewife and a professional chef, Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange wrote in a rigorous yet highly instructive and engaging style, explaining in extraordinary detail the proper way to skim a sauce, stuff a chicken, and construct a pâté en croûte. Though her text has never before been translated into English, Madame Saint-Ange's legacy has lived on through the cooking of internationally renowned chefs like Julia Child and Madeleine Kamman, setting the standard for practical home cooking as well as haute cuisine.
Visions of France: See the breathtaking beauty of southeastern France from a spectacular vantage point. Shot in high-definition from a helicopter-mounted camera, these two programs afford dazzling views of historic Provence, and the world-famous Mediterranean wonderland The Riviera. Order this DVD.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety