February 21, 2014

Book Club Bites: The Paris Wife



This is the beginning of a new series! Once a month I'm going to write a post about a book perfect to discuss at your book club and match it to a recipe. Sometimes it will be a book I read for my own local book club and sometimes it will just be a book I think would make for great discussion. I'm going to include a link to discussion questions, and other books to read for more information or to continue the theme.

I'm really excited to start with The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, which just happens to be my real life book club's pick for February. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway's early years in Paris as he was beginning his career, told through his first wife Hadley. They had a whirlwind courtship in the United States before heading abroad as newlyweds. They became part of the circle of intellectual ex-pats living in Paris they socialize with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound (among others). McClain brings their relationship through it's complete arc with respect and intimacy. It's heartbreaking to watch each of them struggle with their values and sense of self as they navigate their troubled marriage.

The first thing I did when I finished this book was run to my computer and Google Hadley Hemingway. I needed to see a picture of her and find out what happened after the end of the book. Being inspired to find out more about a subject is one of my favorite parts of historical fiction. I added two books to my reading list after I finished The Paris Wife. The first was Paris Without End by Gioia Diliberto, the non-fiction story of Hadley and Ernest's marriage and the second was A Moveable Feast by Hemingway himself. This was the last book he wrote before his death and he finally tells the tale of those early years in his own words.

To get your own discussion started here is a list of book club questions from Random House.


Now on to what food to serve at your book club for The Paris Wife. I wanted something French, since the city of Paris is almost more character than setting, but I needed to keep it simple. I looked through cookbooks, decided to make a dessert (because, well…dessert!) and then began debating what fit best with the book. Crepes are lovely but more complex than either Hadley or I would be capable of. Then I stumbled on Clafloutis. It is a simple dish- a little bit cake, a little bit custard. It reminded me of the contrast between Hadley and flashy Jazz Age Paris. This is simple and unpretentious.
It is traditionally made with cherries but I wanted to experiment a little. It was the perfect excuse to use the end of last summer's rhubarb in my freezer, something I am very stingy about! I can't wait to try more variations as different fruit and vegetables come into season. The leftovers will be perfect the morning after book club with your coffee!


Rhubarb Clafoutis
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

Ingredients:
3 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1 inch pieces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
pinch salt
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

In a saucepan (oven proof preferable) place the rhubarb and sugar and cook over medium-low heat until the rhubarb begins to caramelize-about 10-15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Then pour in the milk and vanilla and stir until completely combined. It will be a very loose batter so don't panic.

Take the rhubarb off the heat and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes. It is done when a cake tester comes out clean and the cake has browned slightly. It will fall a little as it cools and just before serving dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

35 comments:

  1. Lovely post and recipe! I recently posted a Blackberry Clafloutis on RE. So easy and yummy - perfect for hospitality!

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  2. Thanks! I'm so glad you stopped by! This is definitely going to be a go-to recipe for me now-and I can't wait to try more combinations. Blueberry sounds yummy!

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  3. I think it's my dream to one day - years down the road - be part of a circle of intellectual expats. I've never made clafloutis but I've always thought they look delicious and relatively easy. Adding blackberries like Sandy mentions sounds especially good since blackberries are my fave berry.

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  4. I just started The Paris Wife yesterday and so far I'm pretty smitten with it. Wouldn't you have loved to be in on some of the conversations they were having? I love the food/book club idea!

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  5. Wouldn't it be fun to be part of that? Although maybe not that particular group of ex-pats! They were all a bit self-involved :)

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  6. Yes! Totally agree. Oh to be a fly on the wall of their Paris cafe! What do you think of the book now that you're a little further along?

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  7. Well I finished it and I LOVED it so, so much. I've always been a huge Hemingway fan but I never really researched his personal life that much. That's all changed now. I've been reading up on all his wives and his time in the war, and on Hadley and her life after him. Such fascinating people! Also, that suitcase of lost stories is apparently common knowledge in the book world but I had never heard it. Now I cannot seem to wrap my brain around it - all that work lost. I've become sort of obsessed with this - I can't stop thinking about these people!

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  8. This is a fantastic idea, Moira! I love your idea for book club bites! I'm excited to see your next pick - and I'll be trying out this recipe ASAP!

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  9. Thanks! I'm really excited about it…I'm having so much fun matching book to recipe :)

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  10. I notice eggs are missing from the ingredient list. How many did you use?

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  11. Oops! Thanks for the heads up. I used 3 eggs and will update the recipe appropriately.

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  12. thanks for the update! I had already started cooking when I realized they were not there; I did some research on other clafoutis recipes and that's what I went with. I also baked at 350F. It turned out so good! Thanks for this recipe!

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  13. I love the idea of pairing a book with a recipe! Hope you have a wonderful SITS day!

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  14. This book is in my stack of "to be read" already - think I'll move it to the top now. What a genius idea to pair book and food recommendations, makes for a great post to read. Happy SITS Day!

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  15. Susan {ofeverymoment}August 21, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    I loved the book, The Paris Wife, and I love to make Cherry Clafoutis! Your rhubarb version sounds lovely! Great idea for a series - I am following you now. Oh - and happy SITS Day!

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  16. Not only have I been dying to read this book, but I am also obsessed with Rhubarb! You may just be my recipe Soul Sister! So glad to have found you via SITS!

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  17. Thank you! I'm excited to do more of these posts this fall…I figured if I can't really cook during the move, I can at least brainstorm :)

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  18. Thank you! I need to try the cherry version the next time cherries come into season too. Nothing like the classic!

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  19. Thank you! And I'd love to link up! I can never get enough book reviews :)

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  20. What a clever and outstanding idea to pair a good book with good food. Excellent!

    I LOVE historical fiction as well.

    Happy SITS Day!

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  21. Perfect! You'll have to let me know what you think when you read the book. So glad to have connected with you!

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  22. Thanks! So glad to find another historical fiction lover too!

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  23. LOVE this idea! There are so many things I want to read, and do and try...

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  24. Thank you! And yes…there are too many! My to-be-read list alone will keep me busy for about 10 years, and that's just books!

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  25. What a great idea! Excited to see what else you read and make! Stopping by from SITS!

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  26. We have book club next week - this would be a great suggestion! Visiting from SITS an going to ck out the rest of your site! Thanks for sharing!

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  27. I loved this book. It was very well written. I hope you enjoy it too! Happy SITs Day!

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  28. This is a great idea! Thanks for the great series!

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  29. Such a cute idea for a series! I'm going to have to buy that book ASAP. Happy SITs Day!

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  30. This book made for a great discussion! Hope you enjoy!

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  31. I really did, though I didn't love Moveable Feast when I read that a few months later. Interesting to see Hemingway's version though...

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  32. Thanks for checking it out! More will be coming this fall :)

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  33. Thanks! Looking forward to chatting more I hope!

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