Appealing cookbook is welcome stage in young foodie's growth
With the publication this month of her debut cookbook, "Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen" (Broadway Books...
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With the publication this month of her debut cookbook, "Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen" (Broadway Books, $18.95), food blogger and author Clotilde Dusoulier continues her remarkable rise to stardom.
What began in 2003 as the daily food musings of this young Parisian on her Web site, chocolateandzucchini.com, has exploded into an international sensation with an avid fan base.
In a cultural turnaround reminiscent of the journey taken by Alice Waters to France in the '60s, Dusoulier's 2-year stay in California's Silicon Valley working as a software engineer set her on an unexpected path.
The sheer number and vastness of food stores in the United States, the fresh produce and variety of ethnic restaurants converged at a personal crossroads, inspiring her to take a new look at the food-scape out her window.
Just as Waters' intro to her first book, "Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook" (Random House, 1982), provided the spark of change for an earlier generation, in her own book, Dusoulier's meditations on the value of curiosity, creativity, pleasure and keeping a food journal speak to a new generation of food lovers and cooks.
The 28-year-old writes with a fresh, natural voice, like a friendly neighbor wanting to share her discoveries. She's knowledgeable but accessible, and in the book is able to stretch her wings in a way that hasn't been possible on the Web.
Dusoulier says it best: "As a passionate reader and book lover, I find that a book — the object itself, the weight in your hands, the presence on your bedside table — has a personality and charm that a Web site can never hope to achieve. It's hard to take a Web site in the kitchen with you, or curl up with it on the couch, a mug of tea by your side and the cat on your lap. You cannot scribble things in the margin of a Web site, or accidentally smudge a little batter on it, forever marking that recipe as the stupendous cake you made for your sister's birthday."
The food shops and markets around her Montmartre neighborhood are not only a source of ingredients, they're the fertile hunting ground for Dusoulier's ideas. While the author may have been influenced by her experiences in California, her recipes are decidedly French. But instead of the soft vanilla and lemon flavors of the time-honored Madeline cakes, her savories explode with the tastes of Roquefort, pears and walnuts. Instead of a traditional crust-lined quiche, she's transformed the dish into mini crustless pops of chicken and cashews suspended in an egg batter.
As she does on her Web site, the author also took the photography for her book, and while a trifle unsophisticated, its simplicity does celebrate the food she cooks.
While Dusoulier continues to expand her experiences and knowledge, her transformation is ongoing. The girl who once couldn't be bothered with food has become the young woman who can't absorb its lessons quickly enough.
CeCe Sullivan: email@example.com
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