The Matchmaker of Perigord

The Matchmaker of Perigord ****

by Julia Stuart

I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

“Barber Guillaume Ladoucette has always enjoyed great success in his tiny village in southwestern France, catering to the tonsorial needs of Amour-sur-Belle’s thirty-three inhabitants. But times have changed. His customers have grown older—and balder. Suddenly there is no longer a call for Guillaume’s particular services, and he is forced to make a drastic career change. Since love and companionship are necessary commodities at any age, he becomes Amour-sur-Belle’s official matchmaker and intends to unite hearts as ably as he once cut hair. But alas, Guillaume is not nearly as accomplished an agent of amour, as the disastrous results of his initial attempts amply prove, especially when it comes to arranging his own romantic future.”

What an entertaining & fun romp through this French village! Prepare for lots of repetition of full names & phrases in this tale~  adding to the farce and serving to help you keep this quirky cast of characters straight. . .

 Among them is Guillaume~ the main ingredient in this story and former barber-turned-matchmaker~ current keeper of his family cassoulet; a baker with ridiculously small, flour-covered shoes; a postman with a tendency to mark his territory along his postal route; the mushroom poisoner; and a chatelaine who prefers antique shorn-off dresses.

Toss in an infernal egg-laying chicken, add a communal shower, stir with the force of a mini-tornado, and season with a crumbling chateau~ this book is a recipe for hilarity!

“Keeping the cassoulet going was more than just the duty of an only son, but something upon which the family’s name rested. For the cassoulet war had been long and ugly and there was still no sign of a truce.”

The bone of contention and source of contraversy~ should a cassoulet have tomatoes in it or not?

*For the purposes of this review, my rooster is standing in for the part of Violette, the infernal chicken :)

“…the bird had taken to entering the house as if she owned the place. Guillaume Laudoucette had tried everything he could think of to get rid of her, short of blasting the bird off his garden wall where she would sit warming her fluffy undercarriage while staring at him.”

“Immediately the barber felt something collapse underneath him. He shot horrified to his feet and inspected the red cushion that his grandmother had made. There, crushed into the fabric, were pieces of shell, and smears of raw yolk were rapidly seeping into it.”

 

“He would return home to find peck marks in his butter, tell-tale four-toed footprints in the talc on the bathroom floor and black-and-white droppings on his freshly washed cotton underpants airing in the cupboard.”

“… he spotted Violette the infernal chicken sitting on the rim of his pot of cassoulet, her tail lifted over its contents in readiness that he finally snapped.”

“After locking the door again, the horrified matchmaker rushed to the stove fearing that the family’s perpetual cassoulet, which had outlasted ten prime ministers, had been ruined with the flick of a tail feather.”

 The dueling picnic basket passages made me feel “a bit peckish” with the many tasty options for Food for Thought~

“For whilst the two men were fiercely competitive when it came to fishing, their unspoken rivalry was not over what one another caught, but the contents of their picnic baskets.”

Guillaume & Stéphane the baker picnic by a “No Fishing” sign~ stopping to wet a hook as well as their feet. . .

“The baker then took out a baguette from his basket, broke off an end, pulled out some of the soft white innards, rolled it into a ball with this artisan fingers and pierced it with a hook.”

“Everyone’s using bread again these days. Pick up any fishing magazine and there’ll be an article about it. It’s only natural. Fish, like humans, can’t resist the work of a true artisan.”

“…they both took off their shoes and tied their lines around their ankles. Carefully rolling up both trouser legs to the knee, they plunged their feet into the cool water and felt the weighted lines spiraling down towards the bottom of the river.”

My husband played the role of the reluctant-but-obliging-fishing-foot-model. . . and managed to reel in a bottle of wine for this picnic~

“He watched as a bunch of tomatoes-on-the-vine surfaced, which were inhaled before being place on the red tea towel. Next came a jar of cornichons, followed by a bunch of pink radish and another baguette. Then, with what was unmistakable the hint of a sly smile, a large earthenware container was brought out and placed on the grass.”

“…drawing out a large flask from the basket and unscrewing the lid. ‘I tell you, nothing beats vichyssoise glacee on a hot day. It’s the leeks from the garden that really makes it, I think.’ ”

Striving for one-upmanship in the picnic basket competition~  elaborate picnic fare is revealed from the dueling baskets…lobster tail potato salad made with the lobster you no doubt caught yourself … walnut tart served with the honey, collected from a hive wearing your beekeeper’s helmet… fruits in kirsch~ picked from your garden and fermented for two years~ so potent as to blow your head off…

I opted for a goat cheese tart~ with garlic & herb goat cheese, heavy cream, eggs & shallots.

 Unlike Guillaume I did not milk the goat myself :)

I found a Goat Cheese Tart recipe from Ina Garten and made a couple of changes.

Ina’s recipe called for ¼ cup chopped basil~

Too early here for fresh basil, I substituted chopped baby spinach. I also added 1/2 teaspoon each of chopped fresh thyme & rosemary to add to garlic-and-herb soft goat cheese.

There is a note in the recipe stating if the pastry shell has shrunk, there may be leftover filling.

Mine did shrink and I also used an 8 inch tart pan instead of the suggested 9 inch size.

I had enough filling to make 8 additional mini tarts using Dutch Ann frozen tart shells.

Perfect for picnic size and easy to pop out of the aluminum tart shell pans after cooling for serving~

“ ‘Not everyone falls instantly head over heels,’ said the matchmaker. ‘Love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time and determination. Some bits are delicious, while others might be a bit rancid and make you wince. You may even come across the odd surprise like a little green button, but you have to consider the whole dish.’ ”

If you’re joining in the fun with The Matchmaker for FFT, let me know by comment & I’ll add a link back to this post so everyone can enjoy a taste~

Visit Maggie’s potager in rural France~

Sample Sarah’s picnic basket~

Rocky Mountain Woman’s Soupe Villageoise~

Bon Appetit!

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

Food for Thought~

Alphabe-Thursday~

 Foodie Friday~

On The Menu Monday~ Welcome Back Yvonne!

  24 comments for “The Matchmaker of Perigord

  1. March 9, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Loved your review, Mary.
    Your photography as always blew me away, such style, such taste! So very French!

  2. March 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Gorgeous post Mary. Next time I pack a picnic I can only hope to be as creative as this. Fabulous!

  3. March 9, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Gorgeous, gorgeous post…Have not read the book; however, your presentation would want anyone to rush out and buy the book…Your photography is phenomenal…

  4. March 9, 2012 at 10:45 am

    mary this is so fun for me to see all your detail, i must say the green button grabbed me the most, such a clever shot! and of course the chicken in the pot, taunting!

    the no fishing sign, the ankle shot, omg all this was in my minds eye, so fun you have enhanced it all!

    your tarts are scrumptious, i almost did the same thing too, but it was easier to hit the bakery :)

    i adored this book, your fun french flare is fabulous to see, even on a tiny cell phone… thank you so much for being my fft cohort, its always a pleasure reading and playing with you~

  5. March 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

    This book sounds delightful! Of course, I believe everyone in Europe is extraordinarily charming and leads an extraordinarily charming life. Your photos have transported us to a place where only two things matter–food and love. In that order. Your tarts are picture perfect, as is this entire post!

  6. March 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

    OMG, Mary reading your post made this book come alive. You hit every detail! I so wanted to do a picnic by the creek, but of course I waited till the eleventh hour and rain moved in. Love the no fishing sign, the collage of fishing with the toes, and that button ~ you amaze me. Looks like we used the same recipe. I only tweaked a bit, but this is definitely a keeper for our kitchen. Making it again in mini form as an appetizer for Sunday night when friends come to dinner. ~ Sarah

  7. March 9, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Omgoodness.. i want to read this book. You made the story come to life. Nothing wrong with a good book and great food. I love this post.. love the story, love the photos.. you provided a wonderful respite from a bleak friday.. xo marlis

  8. March 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    You have captured the essence of the book perfectly! I am joining up today! What fun…

  9. March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I am craving a goat cheese tart now so I am going to give your recipe a try and read the book too. So very artistic and you always pick the best passages to hook us!

  10. Pat
    March 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Between your delicious looking goat cheese tarts and Sarah’s, i want to find that Ina Garten recipe and make one of my own! I loved all your photos, Mary. They were very descriptive.

  11. March 10, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Sounds like a fun book and the picnic looks delightful!
    Love the sounds and look of the goat cheese tarts!
    Another book for my To Read list and another recipe for my To Try list!

  12. March 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Beautiful tarts!

  13. March 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    HI! I am visiting from Yvonne’s bloggy…great idea to sub in the spinach. I am adding spinach to everything right now to help with being anemic! :}

    Lisa
    Simply…this.that.and the other!

  14. March 11, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    What fun to read your post, Mary!! I saw that both you and Sarah used Ina’s tart recipe!! What stunning pics you took! Now I need to read that book……..

  15. March 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    There you go again!!!The collage is perfect, the BUTTON…amazing. YOu are SO good. I loved this and the book sounds great! XO, Pinky

  16. March 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    So colourful and the food looks so yummy.

  17. March 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

    As always, lovely photos. and those goat’s cheese tarts…oh my, they look delicious and so pretty.

  18. March 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Loved this book, and your review does it justice!

    =)

  19. Pondside
    March 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Now that’s my kind of fishing expedition!

  20. March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Wow. This is some seriously quaint and lovely fishing!

    I think I would even actually go if the experience were really like that with my husband!

    My mouth is watering from this quite delicious link.

    A+

  21. May 18, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I happened to stumble across this post via your Mother’s Day re-post via BNOTP. I rarely comment but had to let you know how thoroughly I enjoyed reading this. I can only agree with your regular contributors about the care and attention you have given to bringing this book to life in such a colourful and humorous way. The photographs and the food look wonderful. As a retailer (though not of books or kitchen paraphenalia) I could readily see how your tableau would make an excellent window display for both products!

  22. June 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Love your blog, insights, photos, and point of view. The tarts look Ina-inviting. I would love to read Food for Thought blog, but it is by invitation only. Please consider inviting me! ~CJ

  23. March 13, 2013 at 7:15 am

    LOVE this post, Mary! I’m steal freaked-out about cassoulet. And I guess you know whose side I’m on in the controversy because I put tomatoes in mine! ;P

Thanks for your comments~ they make my day :)

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