“The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George captured my attention this week and filled my time reading a wonderfully delightful story of Monsieur Perdu a “literary apothecary” who prescribes novels for the hardships of life from his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine. He has a talent for choosing the exact book a reader needs to mend a broken heart or lift spirits.
He is joined by a bestselling but struggling author and a lovelorn Italian chef, as he travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
A quote from the Italian chef when talking about the French author Marcel Pagnol: “He knew that you can only really see with your tongue. And your nose and your stomach.” My sentiments exactly!
Another quote from the book: “The chef added between mouthfuls, ‘I’m a firm believer that you have to taste a country’s soul to understand it and to grasp its people. And by soul I mean what grows there, what its people see and smell and touch every day, what travels through them and shapes them from the inside out… Like pasta shapes the Italians.’ ” He was talking my language!
To my delight, there are recipes at the back of the book, along with Monsieur Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy – “Fast acting medicines for minds and hearts affected by minor or moderate emotional turmoil. To be taken in easily digestible doses (between five and fifty pages) unless otherwise indicated and, if possible, with warm feet and/or with a cat on your lap.” There are several books in this pharmacy that I have put on my to-read list.
I liked this recipe because it used a lot of vegetables that are fairly easy to find year around.
Whenever leeks are included in a recipe I always cut them up and put them in water to clean. Sometimes they can be quite dirty from the farm or grocery store.
For the pesto I used a food processor and blended the basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and Parmesan cheese together. It was less effort than making a paste with the garlic and then grinding the basil and other ingredients together. However, I can picture the Italian chef in the book standing in the galley kitchen with a mortar and pestle to crush and mash into pesto.
The recipe I chose to share from the book is Pistou Soup – a staple in Provence. Julia Child also referred to this soup as pesto soup.