On Claude Monet’s plate

Written by art historian Claire Joyes and exclusively available at our online store, ‘Les carnets de cuisine de Claude Monet’ (Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet) has just been republished by Chêne publishing house (French only). This little historical culinary gem is a must-have gift for you to slip under the Christmas tree!

The Monets definitely knew how to dine! In addition to his unique gift with the paintbrush, the artist was a keen foodie. Despite getting up when the rooster crowed, he did not settle for a coffee and buttered toast for breakfast. Instead, the menu included cold meats, cheese, eggs, toast with orange marmalade and even grilled andouille sausage! Other mealtimes were not taken lightly either. Claude Monet enjoyed fish and delighted in eating freshly caught pike. Enhanced by kitchen garden plants from the Midi region, the game, poultry and roast meat met the exacting standards of his palate. And of course there was an array of vegetables, including tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, artichokes and courgettes from Nice, paired with broad beans, Rocambole garlic and little Egyptian onions! This simple, middle-class, flavour-packed cuisine was savoured on carefully chosen tableware, illustrating a genuine everyday ‘art de vivre’ and entertaining skill.

While Monet was a dining afficionado, he never did the actual cooking! During his years in Giverny, Claude Monet swore by his cooking goddess Marguerite. He prized her so highly that when she got married, he hired her husband Paul as his butler to ensure that Marguerite stayed! This master chef excelled in the culinary arts, from A to Z, with dishes ranging from simple puree to creamy meringues, dry-aged meat pâté, ‘vert-vert’ cake and ‘Yankee’ recipes.

Handed down by Marguerite or gleaned from friends (Cézanne, Mallarmé, etc.) and restauranteurs (Prunier, etc.), all of these recipes have conscientiously been put to paper over the years. Alice Hoschedé entrusted the precious cooking journals to Marthe, one of her daughters, and they ended up in the hands of Jean-Marie Toulgouat, the great grandson of Alice and… the husband of Claire Joyes! When she unearthed them for the first time in 1989, the art historian created a bookstore success.

Prefaced by chef Joël Robuchon, this tastefully illustrated book can be savoured as you would devour a generous dish. In the first few chapters, Claire Joyes uses her skill with words to weave a pictorial journey through Claude Monet’s work with the story of his culinary preferences. Between bibliographical references, she sketches ingredients from a turn-of-the-century table and describes the feeling of that place, the picnics and other celebratory lunches. The second part is quite moving and focuses on the precious recipes. Discover wonderful nuggets of knowledge nestled amongst soups, eggs (upside down with tomato), sauces, first courses (girolle mushroom recipes like Mallarmé), poultry (gastronomic sautéed chicken), meats served with Yorkshire pudding, game meat, fish (Florentine-style sole fillets) and desserts (including the must-try ‘vert-vert’ cake and banana ice cream)!

This book entices you to head to the kitchen. It is exclusively available from our online shop