This companion cookbook to Bumpus’ novel, A Cup of Redemption (2014), provides recipes for traditional, rural French cooking, region by region.
Bumpus offers this slender cookbook as a companion to her multigenerational saga of a French family coming to terms with their history and sense of identity amid years of violence, war, and betrayal. In the novel, Bumpus’ characters make it clear they are less interested in haute cuisine than in cuisine pauvre, or traditional peasant cooking, and Bumpus uses regional destinations from the novel to provide a sampling of rustic French culinary delights. The cookbook itself is a kind of pastiche of excerpts from the novel— recipes apparently gleaned from Bumpus’ own experiences traveling through France and recipes and advice adapted from some of her favorite French cookbooks, as with her “Omelette aux Champignons et au Fromage,” which hails from the Auvergne region. While an omelet or a quiche is a fairly easy accomplishment for a novice cook, several other recipes lack detailed instruction and appear geared toward those with more adventurous pallets and advanced culinary skill sets. As you might expect from rustic French cooking, ingredients tend to include quite a lot of game and offal; and in many ways, what makes this collection so interesting and worthwhile—the emphasis on local, rural, retro cuisine—may also make it best suited for advanced cooks rather than curious beginners. For instance, an Alsatian recipe for “Baekheofe” instructs the reader to simply marinate lamb, beef, and pork in wine overnight with some herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper, then layer meat and potatoes and some vegetables along with goose fat in a terrine, placing a pear and possibly some pigs’ feet on top before sealing with pastry. Another recipe for “Boudin Blanc” takes the reader into the realm of charcuterie, advising the cook to push the white sausage mixture into a cleaned intestine.
An interesting survey of traditional regional French cooking for intermediate to advanced cooks and fans of Bumpus’ novel.