The first time you pick up Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmand: Recipes for an Inspired Life, I’m willing to bet that the adjectives that spring to mind are: "lovely," "elegant," or "delightful."
Boston resident and French expat, Beatrice Peltre, is an award-winning master of French cuisine, as well as an accomplished photographer and food stylist – and it shows.
See for yourself:
Some cooks need photos with their recipes, and some don't. If you're the kind of cook that does, you'll no doubt be entirely impressed, as well as inspired, with the quality of Beatrice Peltre's shots. The Indigo Blog is pleased to share this piece from Beatrice herself, on her journey with food that led to this cookbook’s creation.
I grew up in rural France, in a family in love with food. It's assuredly one of our favorite topics of conversation whenever we meet. My mother, grandmothers and aunts all kept vegetable gardens with orchards, so as a young child I spent a lot of time helping them there, during les grandes vacances (summer vacation), when fruit and vegetables were plentiful. My mother always cooked every one of our meals; so somehow, I took for granted that this was what was supposed to be. We always sat down to eat together at every meal, the way the French like to. My education and willingness to cook, share, and make people happy with pretty delicious foods started there.
By my mother's side, I learned to cook very early in age. And because of it, naturally, I became obsessed with food. If I wanted to eat well, the way I was used to, I had to learn to cook.
A lot of my friends in college, and other people that I've met over the years, always thought that my love for food meant I should become a chef. But somehow I knew that it was not what I was cut out for, even if I sometimes dreamed of running a lovely restaurant where simple homemade foods—like hearty soups, vegetable tarts, tartines and humble desserts (hello mousse au chocolat, iles flottantes and apricot tarts!)— would be served. Instead, I kept buying food magazines and cookbooks, and prepared meals for my friends and family.
I have lived in the United States and New Zealand, and I travel a lot. In every place I visit I always ask what people like to eat. I didn't know when I was younger, but it's this lifestyle that shaped my type of cooking: a blend of my French roots with inspiration drawn from the various places I have visited, and the many different types of cuisines I sampled.
I love anything organic. I love healthy foods. I love colorful pretty foods—those that you want to eat with your eyes first. I love to style food. Vegetables, grains, and fruit are favorites.
My dishes don't need to be complicated, mind you—although I also enjoy the process of preparing something that pushes my cooking skills. I prefer to put emphasis on quality and build a recipe from that viewpoint.
When I started my food blog, I didn't have a particular intention. I thought it would be nice to have a log of my experiences with cooking and food since it was obviously my favorite activity. So I began. And as I did, I quickly realized that I not only loved to cook, but I really enjoyed writing, styling and photographing food.
I worked hard at it. But in a way, it felt easy, because my drive to keep going really came from my passion for creating, styling and photographing food. I was truly lucky to receive wonderful feedback from my readers. They motivated me, too, to keep going. I favored quality to quantity. My blog had become my creative space.
I've always wanted to write a cookbook, but I didn't know what to do to make it happen. When my publisher approached me, I appreciated that they came to me because they liked my vision. At the time, I already had a book agent with whom I had written a book proposal. The timing was right, even if when it all happened, I had just found out that I was pregnant. I didn't really know how I was going to manage to write a book (I had never done this before) and be a mother—I had everything to learn.
But I said yes. Signed a book deal. And it's been an amazingly enriching experience.
Of course, it was hard at times. What process isn't? But to keep me focused, I liked to remind myself of what my dear husband once told me: "Béa, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it." Nibbling dark chocolate as I worked always helped too.
With my book, I truly wanted to inspire people to cook. A tentative title for the book was actually Inspired to Cook. I wanted to share stories about my journey with food, and with Lulu (because it was obvious that after she was born, my life changed) and Philip, and the importance that food has in our lives. I wanted a book that was going to translate what my readers find in my blog—with the same aesthetics and the same voice—but fit for a book. There needed to be a lot of visuals because it's a strong element of what I do. I was lucky because my publisher really included me in the decision making process for the entire design of the book. It was a work that came out of great collaboration.
The book offers all of that, with recipes that translate my vision: Every day French food made beautiful—the foods I like to eat; traditional French recipes with a twist—because I love to revisit old favorites and cook them with my favorite ingredients and my taste; and recipes inspired from my travels too.
The process was long. Educational. But I am really pleased with the way the book came out. It was truly worth the wait.
For a closer look at Beatrice’s work, please visit http://www.latartinegourmande.com/
Thanks to Random House of Canada and Roost Books for their assistance with this blog, as well as Beatrice herself – we wish her well with her first book.