Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles

Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher is not just a delicious read, but a delicious experience for the senses. As you know, here at Sweet Reads we are all about incredible edibles, so this title was bumped to the top of my To-Read-Right-This-Very-Instant List before even cracking open the cover. (FYI: That doesn’t happen very often. I’m very stingy with my TRRTVI List.)

The edibles referred to in the title are NOT the type of edibles you will find on this blog. You will not find a wholesome banana bread or a crumbly sugar cookie or any type of normal food item within the pages of this book. Ohhh, no sir. These edibles are the kind you may find on Fear Factor, except with a gourmet twist. For instance, have you ever tried Salt-Cured Raptor Tails or Scorpion Tails in Smoked Garlic Oil. Or how about Crocodile Kidneys in Blueberry Wine and Giant Squid Tentacles in Jasmine-Scented Jelly? Yeah, me neither.

Madame Pamplemousse is the woman responsible for creating these eerie, yet intriguing delicacies in her tiny shop with the help of her one-eyed cat, Camembert.

Inside, the shop is cool and musty-smelling, lit only by candlelight. In the flickering shadows, great bunches of sausages and dried herbs, strings of garlic and chilli peppers, and giant salted meats hang from the ceiling. Rows of cheeses are laid out on beds of dark green leaves and all around there are shelves winding up to the ceiling, crammed with bottles and strangely shaped jars.

Madeleine is sent by her parents to work in her uncle Lard’s restaurant, The Squealing Pig, for the summer. Uncle Lard (whose outfits are as horrendous as his food) serves foods that are greasy, fried, and full of fat. Madeleine is an aspiring (meaning aiming for) chef who loves to experiment in the kitchen, often creating delicious and unique dishes to the surprise of the Head Chef and a jealous Uncle Lard. Once Uncle Lard realizes Madeleine’s potential, he banishes her from the kitchen and forces her to scrub the pots and pans that are covered with slimy fat. When he finds out about Madame Pamplemousse’s incredible edibles, he sends Madeleine to work in her shop and act as a spy to gain the secrets to her recipes.
Madeleine flourishes under the watchful eye of Madame Pamplemousse and is taught many culinary skills, all the while keeping her word to her uncle that she would find the secret ingredients in the incredible edibles. One day, Madame Pamplemousse catches Madeleine spying on her during a clandestine (meaning secret) cooking operation and Madeleine, racked with guilt, confesses her intentions. Surprisingly, Madame Pamplemousse is not the least bit angry and gladly hands over the recipe to an ashamed, yet grateful, Madeleine. What she discovers on the yellowed piece of paper written in ink is a list of ingredients that is anything but incredible. In fact, they were quite ordinary. It is at this moment that Madeleine realizes that the reason Madame Pamplemousse's incredible edibles are so extraordinary is because of the cook--not the ingredients. One of my favorite lines in the entire book comes during this realization and I loved it so much that I wrote it in my NN (Nightstand Notebook) and highlighted it. The ending is a tad predictable, but completely worth reading. If anything, it will have you asking your mom for something a little more zesty than the usual mac n' cheese or chicken fingers. Roast Piranha with Raspberry Coulis anyone???
Recipe to Read By: Crusty French Bread
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
Add the sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; return to bowl.
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface.
Shape into a loaf 16 in. long x 2-1/2 in. wide with tapered ends.
Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaf on baking sheet.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.
Beat egg white and cold water; brush over dough.
With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes 2 in. apart across top of loaf.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
When the bread comes out of the oven and smells like heaven on a baking sheet, spread the warm, crusty goodness with pate of North Atlantic Sea Serpent with Green Peppercorn Mustard. If it is a special occasion, serve the fresh bread with Velociraptor Heart in Red Wine. (Unfortunately, you will have to find these recipes elsewhere.)
Recipe courtesy of http://www.allrecipes.com/

1 comment:

  1. Will pass on Madame Pamplemousse's entrees... crusty french bread sounds divine!!