If there's one word that describes Clotilde Dusoulier, it's charming.
I was lucky enough to attend her book event at Cody's in Berkeley last night and it was a treat. Clotilde, the author of the popular blog Chocolate & Zucchini
, now has a book published called Chocolate & Zucchini: Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen
The book is filled with new recipes not posted on the blog and is beautifully designed with mouth-watering photographs, all taken by Dusoulier (except the front cover!).
Each recipe has a beautifully written introduction that provides a personal context for the recipe and each recipe clearly has something special to offer. It took me less than a minute of browsing the recipes, photographs, and first lines to know that this was an unusually personal cookbook, one I would greatly enjoy and enjoy learning from.
While not a vegetarian cookbook, there's plenty here to whet your whistle. Let me torment you with a few: Pistachio Pesto, Broccoli & Apple Quiche, Warm Bean Salad with Walnut-Arugula Pesto, Onion & Cumin Quiche, Cacao & Zucchini Absorption Pasta...oh, yes, let's not forget dessert: Chocolate & Zucchini cake, Nectarine, Peach & Ginger Tarte or Lemon Butter Cookies. You can tell from the list above that Dusoulier likes to find inventive pairings of ingredients. She also mentioned last night that the colors of the food are also an inspiration.
Ironically, Dusoulier grew up in France, but didn't start cooking herself until she visited California for two years and set up her first kitchen. Clearly food and cooking is a personal and creative enjoyment, but Clotilde stressed how talking about food with others creates a wonderful basis for genuine sharing of life experiences: asking questions about how and where the food is grown, hearing about a grandmother's favorite recipe, family food traditions and so forth.
A favorite quote from the introductory section My Cooking Philosophy
"Cooking has an exhilarating way of being both an intimate activity - you follow your own appetite and play your own game, surrounded by your happy chaos - and a universal one, as you submit yourself to forces greater than you, and walk in the footsteps of generations of cooks before you."
A few details from last night's event: Clotilde mentioned that in America, we're lucky to have big grocery stores with lots of products (like Trader Joe's) so we are comfortable taking our time, looking at this and that. In Paris, shops tend to be small and specialized and the shopper is put on the spot to know why they are there! Her favorite ingredient? "Is Chocolate too easy an answer?" Food photography: she became very interested in food photography and has honed her skills by practising and trying lots of different things. Natural light is very important, and she never cheats (that is, "no food is harmed in her food styling", it's all edible.) She often takes 35 shots of a single item. She strongly believes in using seasonal, local ingredients when they are at their best.That the wonderful thing about food and cooking is that, no matter how much you learn, there will always be something new to learn and discover.
Locals: Sat., May 26th at 1pm, Clotilde will be at Book Passage at the Ferry Building for her last book-signing event!
Anyone who enjoys inventive, simple cooking and excellent food writing, will love her book: