Pairing Books, Food and Wine

Pairing Books, Food and Wine

By Janet Podolak

If you can’t get to France, bring France to your kitchen, with a heaping portion of literature. That’s the philosophy behind the Book Club Cooking Class series hosted monthly at Pairings, Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience in Geneva.

During a recent class, students discussed A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle while chef Tammy Duhaime prepared recipes inspired by that region. Glasses of wine in hand, they snacked on caviar d’aubergines – actually a thick purée of eggplant – and chunks of freshly baked bread. The “caviar,” topped with shredded fresh basil and lemon zest, made an impressive presentation.

Duhaime, a French Canadian, drank a Valley Vineyard dry Rosé as she worked in the open kitchen. “It’s the most popular summertime wine in Provence,” she says. Participants voiced one major criticism of the book: those who hadn’t studied French didn’t know the meaning of aubergine. “A glossary at the back would have helped with the French words,” one student said.

In his book, Mayle documents his family’s relocation from England to rural Provence, describing regional customs along the way. “The stomach is by far the most influential organ in France,” Mayle writes, sharing recipes from his neighbors throughout the book.

One of Mayle’s favorite recipes is the simplest: oil, butter, garlic and chopped parsley cooked slowly with mushrooms. During mushroom season, he writes, pharmacies become mushroom guidance centers so foragers can safely identify their finds. Duhaime also assists newly hired Chef Michael Lorah, who sometimes cooks and instructs for the book group.

Upcoming books and cuisines include Pomegranate Soup (Persian), The Last Chinese Chef  (Chinese), The Hundred-Foot Journey (Indian), and Yes Chef: A Memoir (Ethiopian and Swedish).

For details, go to

Caviar d’Aubergines

2 eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
6 cloves garlic, roasted
1 small onion, roasted
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 TBS olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place eggplant cut sides down on no-stick baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes until tender. Remove from oven to cool. Slip skins off and place flesh in food processor. Add garlic, onion, parsley and lemon juice; blend until smooth. With machine running, add olive oil in a thin stream. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 2 cups.

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