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Clémentine in the Kitchen

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by Samuel Chamberlain
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For those who love narratives with recipes, who place a value on knowing the culture and place from which food comes, Clémentine in the Kitchen, is enduringly enchanting. We’re thrilled that publisher David R. Godine has just re-released it in a handsome paperback edition with flaps and all of author Samuel Chamberlain’s original drawings and etchings.

First released in 1943, at which point Chamberlain was using the pen name Phineas Beck, Clémentine purports to be the account of an American family living in France and the “alert, good-natured little Burgundian woman” who Chamberlain called “the culinary keystone” of their household. While there were, in truth, a succession of cooks who fed and educated his family, in Clémentine Chamberlain melds them into a single character who is eventually transplanted to Massachusetts as the family flees the clouds of war in 1939. There she continues to educate the entire family in good cooking, with the occasional interruption due to New Englander reluctance to indulge in good ingredients.

To the original account, the Chamberlain’s daughter Narcisse, by then a cookbook editor of renown, added in 1988 recipes that favored the way Clémentine cooked for the family over her father’s choices of “what she served when guests came to dinner.”

Paperback with flaps. Line drawings and etchings throughout.

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