Tommy has recently developed a fascination with my cookbooks. He loves to read them and look at the pictures, generally asking me all the while if we can make all of the desserts. One of his favorites is really more of a coffee table book, Monet’s Table by Claire Joyes. It includes many lovely photos of Monet’s house and garden, an essay about the role of food in his household, and recipes (at the end) from Monet’s cooking journals.
Tonight I was preparing a simple dinner and he wandered in, grabbed this book off the shelf, and started his usual routine:
“Mommy, there’s a really good vegetable soup in here, we should make it sometime.” He then proceeded to read the ingredients, beaming when he sounded out the words “crème fraîche” – “I read French!” he crowed.
“Mommy, we have to make the Christmas pudding – it says it’s a good one!” The title of this recipe is in fact Christmas Pudding (a good one) and the first ingredient is a pound of suet.
“Mommy, have you ever made upside down apple tart? Would you make it with vanilla cream?” Well who wouldn’t?
“Mommy can we make verteh-verteh?” I had to consult the book on this one before I could answer – it’s actually a green cake called vert-vert. The cake contains ground pistachios and kirsch, is layered with pistachio cream, and has a fondant frosting colored with spinach juice.
This went on for some time until I promised him that we would pick out a menu and make all of the recipes from this book, in honor of our trip to France.
Tommy left the book on the sofa when he was done with it, and as I picked it up, it fell open to the page showing a photograph of the dining room in Monet’s house with its yellow chairs and walls and the blue and white china. I teared up as I remembered how lovely it was to walk through that house with Tommy and Teddy, the former looking for photos of “the old days” and the latter making the strange small braying sound that indicates he is Radish the baby purple elephant. This is why I travel with my children, because to have these shared experiences add texture to even a workaday task like making dinner.
I’ll let you know when Tommy and I prepare our Monet Meal. I will have to pull out the good china for sure.
(I don’t have a photo of the dining room because they don’t let you take pictures in the house, so you’ll have to settle for Tommy’s shot of the outside of the house instead – like all his pictures it is at somewhat of an angle).