Cookbooks

Flavors of the Riviera by Colman Andrews

Flavors of the Riviera – Introduction

Flavors of the Riviera by Colman Andrews is a fascinating survey of the food of the regions of Italy and France from the Ligurian Coast to the Cote d’Azure.

When Colman Andrews decides to tackle a food topic he does so with a thoroughness that is commendable. He has an uncanny ability to locate the ‘right’ people to help him understand the local cuisine and local produce.

In the introduction to Flavors of the Riviera he is also mindful of the issue of authenticity embodied by Jacques Médecin described below who was scathing about what he described as inauthentic addition to Salade Niçoise such as potato and green beans.

Andrews addresses authenticity as follows:

Traditional cuisine isn’t made from recipes; it is born out of necessity, availability, and intuition, and it is codified not in books but in individual recollection or in common wisdom. Traditional cuisine is folklore, inspired by the world in which its creators live, imbued with lessons about that world, and passed down by a people among themselves, with infinite variation and frequent adaptation.

So, when he is in Genoa he unearthed a gold mine of local authorities on the history of the region’s food.

In Nice he relies on two perfect authorities – Franck Cerutti (who turns out such wonderful food at Louis XV in Monaco) and Jacques Médecin the disgraced former mayor of Nice whose book La cuisine du comté de Nice is a classic on authentic Niçoise cuisine.

Andrews bows to the very specific instructions laid down by the former mayor such as the use of anchovies OR canned tuna, but never both together. He also ensures that no cooked vegetables find a pace on the plate such as potato or green beans. Raw fava beans are OK.

In his book, Médecin states:

What crimes have been committed in the name of this pure, fresh salad….

Andrews takes up the challenge:

Since I have no wish to be accused of any crimes myself, I hereby present an adaptation of Médecin’s own recipe for the dish – adding only a few procedural notes and explications, and recasting the list of ingredients slightly for consistency’s sake.

Only a master diplomat could approach the minefield of the components of a Niçoise salad and come out the other side in one piece!

In Flavors of the Riviera, whether it is a recipe for ratatouille or Ligurian gnocchi, the approach is thoughtful, meticulously researched and delicious!

Andrews has written many other books including one on Catalan Cuisine, one on country cooking in Italy, one on the food of Ireland, another on the foods of America, and his most recent one which is about traditional British foods.

You can read a review of his latest book which includes three recipes by clicking on the following link:

The British Table

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