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Cooking for Picasso: Art, Food, and France

Cooking for Picasso is a great, breezy summer read that will leave you hungry for delicious Provençal foods and the salty sea air from the French Riviera.

Camille Aubray’s prose is light in tone yet evocative; conjuring up a small seaside town on the southern coast of France in both the 1930s and present day. Cooking for Picasso tells a fictionalized account of the two months that Picasso spent living in Juan-les-Pins, a Provençal village. Ondine is the daughter of a couple that runs a homey café, and she is instructed to bring Picasso (living under the name of Monsieur Ruiz) his lunch every day. Picasso and Ondine become inspirations to each other—in painting and in cooking—but, as always, time changes things.

Céline, Ondine’s granddaughter, is our present day protagonist. Dealing with complicated and tragic issues in her life, she escapes the U.S. to go to the Côte d’Azur and to the town her family was from. With her grandmother’s notebook full of recipes, she hunts through the past to help her discover happiness in her own life (that happiness, of course, may come with handsome Chef Gil…and more delectable descriptions of French cooking).

Listening to Mozhan Marno narrate Cooking for Picasso is a pleasure. Her wonderful pronunciation of French phrases, that would otherwise stumble readers, pulls you deeper into the world that Aubray creates with her words. Hearing the detailed descriptions of coq au vin, tartines, and cakes will make you itch to get into your kitchen. So make a day of it. Listen to Cooking for Picasso, cook up some French delicacies, and then be transported to the south of France. C’est magnifique!

Listen to an excerpt Cooking for Picasso