On Saturday I mentioned www.EdibleIdioms.com, a site that I had come across that had tickled my fancy.
I felt that the author of www.EdibleIdioms.com might, in fact, be rather an interesting person.
It turns out she is!
I found out that Kimberley Lovato is a freelance writer and author who just recently landed in San Francisco, after six years in Europe.
Her travel and lifestyle writing has appeared in loads of posh publications. For more details you ought to take a look at her website, the cunningly named www.kimberleylovato.com
Kimberley also has a very interesting blog at www.abroadinbelgium.com which, being set in Belgium rather than France won’t be reviewed here, I’m sad to say.
But, more importantly, Kimberley has written a book!
Over 40 recipes dot the pages, and 80 + photos from photographer Lou Lesko bring this historic and gourmet region of France to life in a book that will have you catching the next flight to the Dordogne, or at least enjoying the journey from your own kitchen table.
As it’s been quite a while since I’ve had my grubby little hands on a real live author, I decided there was only one polite thing to do!
A famous (or should that, by now, be infamous) A Taste of Garlic Interview…..
I asked Kimberley if that was OK and she, to my surprise, said Yes!
I didn’t want to waste a single moment, and certainly didn’t want to give her an opportunity to change her mind – as she certainly would do if she saw my interview with Karen Wheeler – or any of my previous interviews, in fact!
Thus, I decided to jump on the next bus and visit Kimberly at home.
Sadly, we only have one bus a week in my part of rural Brittany.
And it only goes to the Monday Market at Redon.
As Kimberley lives in California, I had to resort to that old favourite – an emailed interview!
I made sure that Kimberley was sitting comfortably and that she had a medicinal bottle of brandy near to hand and….
Then, I started!
What made you think up such a wonderful idea and are you planning on turning it into a book?
And, if so, will there be a section for naughty sayings?
Kimberley – I have been a student of French since I was 14, but I started collecting these sayings about four years ago when in the childhood home of a French chef . He looked around his mother’s kitchen and told me that all the major decisions of his life happened around the stove. Then he said, “Je suis comme un coque en pâte ici”. At first I thought it was the sun, or the pastis from dinner, or but I could not understand what he said. The translation made no sense. Eventually he confirmed that yes, he did say he was like a rooster in dough, which is a saying that means he felt well taken care of, or cozy, at home. At that point, I started seeking out more of these edible idioms. And yes, I am in the process of writing a book of edible idioms. No plans for naughty sayings yet. Why don’t you take on that task Keith?
2). From your blog…. A Broad in Belgium, I see that you spent six years living in Belgium. What was that all about then? And, is it true that Belgium is just like France but with worse roads and more rain?
Kimberley – Ha. Well I am not sure the French would like to think they are just like the Belgians. The French tend to look down their nose at their neighbors to the north, but for no good reason. Yes, the roads are worse and it does rain a lot. I moved to Brussels with my husband who needed to be there for work, and as a writer and lover of travel and French language, it was a wonderful place to live, write, learn and launch from. Brussels has top restaurants, a lively art and music scene, and half the population comes from somewhere else, which makes it a very international city. I miss it a lot.
3). Your novel, Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves was inspired by a commission to write an article for Tampa Bay Illustrated (that article can be read at Dordogne Dreaming) and I came across another of your articles whilst doing a Google search for French Tarts.
I must admit that the article wasn’t quite what I was looking for but it was very interesting all the same.
Which brings me to my question… The French and Patisserrie – what’s the secret? Why are they so good at it? And why does it taste so nice?
Kimberley – Well, about the article, the book was not really based on that article, but the chef about whom the article was written, chef Laura Schmalhorst, and her culinary tour company Vagabond Gourmet. It was her love of getting to the heart of her food and meeting the people behind the kitchen doors and market stalls that inspired the book. The Dordogne was a region that she had been travelling to for years, and I was fortuitous enough to be sent there on assignment. Rough job.
But your real question…why are the pastries so good? A chef might be able to answer this, but for me, I think that since the French love their art, their architecture and their food, they found a way to combine all into an edible masterpieces. The patisseries are the galleries. It really gives new meaning to the idiom: lécher les vitrines, to lick the windows, non?
4). Getting back to your novel… How long did it take for you to write Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves and how many meals did you have to eat in order to research the book?
Did you put on loads of weight and, most importantly of all, do you need a freelance researcher for your next book (I’m quite good at eating and I’d be quite handy for the Brittany bits?)
Kimberley – Actually, I would love to write a similar book about Brittany and the cuisine there so I may take you up on that someday! It took about four years to write Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, which included the first publisher going bankrupt and me having to crawl out of my depression and find a new publisher. Seriously, it was a blessing in disguise and Running Press did a beautiful job. Yes indeed, I ate non stop, all in the name of research of course, and had my fair share of duck confit, foie gras and pommes sarladaises, and truffles. Poor me. When I met up this May with an old friend from the Dorodgne, the first thing she said was, “you’ve lost weight!” I must have put on enough kilos to look drastically different at our reunion.
5). Being totally 100% completely serious and professional now… Apart from your husband, Johnny Depp and me, who is the sexiest man living in France today? And why?
Kimberley – You see— I would have put Johnny Depp first. My husband is ok with this. He says if Johnny Depp is ever interested in me, I can have him. He must know something I don’t. Sorry, he’s still the sexiest man in France. I mean look at him Keith. He’s a good-looking bad boy who might wear an eye patch if I asked nicely, and he lives in France. I also love the movie Chocolat.
6). There are rumours (mainly, I believe, spread by all the American women living in France hoping to write the next Mastering the Art of French Cooking) that Elvis isn’t dead but is alive and scraping a living playing the accordian in some of the village markets in the Dordogne. What do you have to say to this? And, if it’s true, did you come across him on your visits?
Kimberley – I think I did see him living in one of the caves along the Vezere river. Of course when I confronted him, he left the cavern.
7). If, for example (and I’m not suggesting that it’d ever happen – I’m sure that you’re far too nice to do anything horrible), you had committed some terrible crime (and, sadly, got caught – although I’m sure you’re far too clever to get caught even if you did, one day, decide to commit some terrible crime) and, as a result were sentenced to death. Would your last meal be Roast Duck served with chips fried in Goose fat and stuffed with foie gras – all decorated with shavings of Black Perigord truffle?
Or, would you choose something more healthy?
Kimberley – Oh no, I would never go for healthy on death row. That would be silly. Your suggestion sounds nice. Anything cooked in duck fat, that heavenly elixir that is to Dordogne cuisine what olive oil is to Italian cooking, topped with some black truffles sounds perfect. I ‘d take the foie gras with some sweet Monbazillac wine to start. Do you think they’d let me have two courses on death row?
8). My favourite cookbook is Goose Fat and Garlic by Jeanne Strang – mainly because it’s full of the sort of recipes for the sort of food that you’d want for a last meal – in other words, lots of Goose Fat and Foie Gras!
What is your favourite Cookbook, and why?
Kimberley – Now Keith, you know my favourite cookbook is Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves. I know the recipes inside out, and I know the stories that go with them. Meals always taste better when accompanied by good memories and good friends (wine helps too). Every recipe in that book represents a great moment in my life that I will always cherish and remember. It doesn’t hurt that the quality of the food and ingredients from this part of France are so delicious. The book has recipes from locals but also new ones created by chef Laura who tried to modernize some old dishes and put a new spin on them.
9). What advice would you have for anyone who had aspirations to become a a freelance journalist and author specializing in lifestyle and travel writing, with a heaping spoonful of culinary curiosity on the side?
Kimberley – My advice is: Don’t expect to get rich (so keep your day job if you have to); learn how to pitch (I still can’t do it well); never quit traveling and writing, if that’s what you love to do; and lastly, share a meal with someone from the area you are visiting. You learn way more sititng around the table with someoen than any guidebook will ever tell you.
10). Would you ever be tempted to leave America and come and live in France full time? And, if so, would it be access to great, local Foie Gras and freshly cooked baguettes that would sway you?
Kimberley – I’d leave tomorrow and stay forever if my husband and daughter would join me No need to be bribed by food (though I’ll never turn it down). France herself is my aphrodisiac and reason enough
11). It is widely accepted that the greatest musician of all time is Johnny Hallyday (although that Mozart was pretty good too!) and that his hit, Que Je t’aime is the finest piece of music ever written.
Do you have a favourite piece of music? And, if so, what is it and why is it so special for you?
Kimberley - I don’t have a favourite piece of music. Much like I appreciate a chef who creates a good meal, I appreciate the effort it takes to create a piece of music, and the symphony of sound and flavour of both finished products.
12). All right thinking people believe that the Citroen 2CV is the epitome of French Style and Class (especially the blue ones because they go faster!)
What is your favourtite car in all the world, and why?
Kimberley - In all the world? Wow. Well, I am not much of a car buff, and the 2CV is quite sexy, but I’d have to choose the Aston Martin. Power, beauty, soul is what the company says are the three important elements in the car. I always liked that, and thought, I hope someone describes me that way someday. Seriously, they are jaw-dropping cars.
13). I’ve just been told that I’ve got to stop asking silly questions and ask some sensible ones for a change For Gawd’s Sake! (I don’t normally get a For Gawd’s Sake! unless I’ve forgotten to take out the rubbish or flush the toilet!) so… here goes…..
What is your favourite vegetable and how do you like to cook/eat it?
Kimberley - I’m kind of boring I guess. I love all vegetables, way more than fruit actually, but if I could eat a salad every day, I’d be content. I love the taste and textures, and varying colour of different lettuces (butter leaf, red-leafed romaine) combined to make a gorgeous salad.
14). If your daughter were to say to you… “Mama, I want to marry a Frenchman!” would you….
a). Lock the aforementioned daughter in the cupboard under the stairs until she recants and agrees to marry a nice American boy?
b). Lock the aforementioned Frenchman in the cupboard under the stairs until he recants and agrees to never see your daughter again and, what’s more, promises to take holy orders and lead a celibate and silent life on a leper colony 12,000 miles away?
c). Shrug your shoulders and say “C’est la vie! It could be worse. She could have really upset us by becoming an Arsenal supporter, for example?”
And would your response be altered if the aforementioned Frenchman was a talented chef de cuisine?
Kimberley - Hmmm. Those are things to ponder as the mother of a tall and beautiful daughter. I think it would be a combo of C and B. I hope she marries someone just like her dad, so as long as he promised to treat my daughter well and she was happy, I guess his nationality doesn’t really matter. But Keith, we are a long way off from discussing marriage in our house. We just need to get through the fall dance at school.
15). Well, that’s over! These interviews are tiring, aren’t they Kimberley?
Do you want to answer any more questions or shall we call it a day and open a nice bottle of Monbazillac?
Kimberley - Let me get the corkscrew!
16). Whoops, I almost forgot!
I’ve got one last question for you, Kimberley!
That giveaway thing we discussed?
You know…. the competition for 2 signed copies of your wonderful book, Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves?
Shall we tell everyone about it now or shall we make them wait?
Kimberley - Why not tell them about it tomorrow?
That way they’ll have all weekend to come up with a winning answer.
OK then. Kimberley, I won’t say a word about it then!
I’d just like to thank you very much, on behalf of all the visitors to A Taste of Garlic, for taking the time to answer my questions.
I wish you (as I’m sure all of the visitors to Garlic do), all the success in the world and, don’t forget, if you ever need a freelance food/recipe researcher in the Brittany area – I’m your man!
I don’t even mind getting fat (or fatter!)
All the best