Monday, March 1, 2010

Cassoulet update

In my article of 7 November 2009 entitled Memorable cassoulet [display], I mentioned my enthusiasm for the preparation of this traditional dish from south-west France. Then, in an article of 24 January 2010 entitled Handmade French ovenware [display], I described my discovery of a pottery firm that produces the traditional ovenware for cassoulet. All that was missing was a typical photo of my own cassoulet preparation served up in a handmade Digoin dish. Here, at last, is the missing photo:

You might ask: What persuaded me to prepare a cassoulet dinner? Well, last Friday evening, French TV offered us a live transmission from Cardiff of the rugby match between France and Wales. Since I've always associated cassoulet with rugby, I decided that this match provided me with an excellent pretext for inaugurating my ovenware. It was also the first time I tasted my home-cooked duck confit... which is excellent.


  1. That cassoulet looks very inviting!
    I made duck breast for dinner, a simple affair compared to your more complex one.

    Rugby and Wales remind me of a Saturday last March in Rome. I was celebrating the sunny morning with a cup of coffee outdoors at Café Rosati, when all of a sudden the large Piazza del Popolo was invaded by busloads of people carrying daffodil hats and flags. In no time all the tables were taken over by daffodil hatted folks in a very festive mood, posing for pictures and photographing each other as if the result of the game ahead depended on it. Definitely no feeling lonely as a cloud! ;-)

  2. Merisi: I needed dearly your apparent professional approval of that cassoulet image. My son François (a photographer like you, but also quite unlike you) has just been making fun of me because of my "frontal" shots of food. He says that, when his father presents a photo of his latest gastronomical marvel, it's as if readers are obliged to receive the image like a custard tart in the face. I'm afraid he's right. But, how can I show people my cassoulet dish (of which I am so proud) without this huge frontal image? I don't really expect your answer, because I don't think it's a problem. I say, concerning my cassoulet photo: Like it or leave it!

  3. Merisi: I didn't have a chance of expressing my admiration of your description of that fleeting moment at the Piazza del Popolo when you were invaded by daffodils that didn't necessarily make you feel as lonely as a cloud. You are both a sensitive photographer and also a cultivated anecdote-teller. And yet, apparently (you tell me), your route as a professional photographer is not yet clearly traced. Life is indeed a fuzzy affair... and not only because of dirty lenses.

  4. Next time your son visits, challenge him to capture both the food and the dish in a better way! Your shot conveys what you wanted to show and tell beautifully.

    As you know, I am not a professional, but I have lately seen food shots in glossy magazines that left me wondering whether anybody really cared whether the pictures left me salivating or not. Grilled meat often looks burned black for example, which lets me immediately think of the unhealthy side effects of coal-tar creosote instead of wanting to bite into a supposedly juicy steak. ;-)

  5. In my rusty-colored photo (it just turned out that way on my automatic Nikon), those bread crumbs on the piece of duck are surely a little bit too burned. But everything was delicious. It's my ex-neighbor Bob (a former rugby star at St-Marcellin) who told me that an authentic cassoulet must be smothered in baked bread crumbs. The France/Wales rugby match on TV, too, was great at times (at least during the first half). In any case, I'll be totally disappointed (and will cease immediately to believe in God) if ever I were to discover that my first attempt at homemade duck confit gave me cancer!

  6. William,
    I was not at all referring to that little burned bit on your cassoulet!

    It is frustrating how putting a little comment so often causes misunderstandings. I should have thought about that you might think .... May I be forgiven please? (Says, and kicks herself!)