I was delighted to be asked this question by US blogger and writer Shelley Workinger, about my characters Eve and Dom in The Lantern. With some relish, I supplied what I hope is a lip-smacking answer in a guest post over on her foodie matters and book blog But What Are They Eating?
Food is a vital part of Eve and Dom’s sensuous life in the South of France. The naïve translator and the worldly older man connect on an instinctive level that seems - at first - set apart from the bleak realities of the lives they are both trying to escape. They fall in love and move into a crumbling Provencal hamlet, set apart on a hillside, where they lose themselves in the heat and light, in music and the imagination – and the fruits of the landscape.
That summer the house and its surroundings became ours, a time reduced in my memory to separate images and impressions: mirabelles, the tart orange plums like incandescent bulbs strung in forest green leaves, a zinc-topped table under a vine canopy; the budding grapes; the basket on the table, a large bowl; tomatoes ribbed and plump as harem cushions.
You can read the whole piece by following the link to But What Are They Eating?
The photo was taken at the time I was writing The Lantern, and so has the tang of absolute authenticity. It's late summer and the table is laid for dinner outside the music room. In the winter, we eat in the kitchen, or if guests are invited, we set up a table in the sitting room. If I were to imagine Eve and Dom hosting an October supper party, the menu might follow one of ours that proved a great success with local friends:
Spicy butternut squash soup
Turkey escalope with a chestnut and mushroom cream sauce
Steamed syrup pudding
It was seasonal, which the French always appreciate, and the classic English pudding went down a storm - though I did make it as light as possible! Served with a restrained amount of crème anglaise, custard, for the full experience.