This was Olney’s last cookbook, originally published in 1994, and erratically available since then. Now it’s happily back in a paperback from Grub Street Press.
“Lulu” is Lucie Peyraud, the legendary matriarch of Domaine Tempier, the vineyard that made Bandol wines famous and respected. Olney had been Lulu’s friend for more than thirty years before this book was published, a collection of written recipes shaped by the American expat—Lulu herself never uses recipes—that reflects the food with which Lulu fed her family, the vineyard workers, and the progression of Americans who came on pilgrimage: Alice Waters, Kermit Lynch, Edward Behr, and many others.
Olney’s meticulousness is nicely offset here by Lulu’s own adaptability and humor. A soup is usually pureed, but not if her husband is away because he’s the one who insists that it be so. A bagna cauda should be served outdoors because of the dripping, and always with extra sauce because some badly raised person will soak it all up. Roasting peppers over a flame and then washing the skin off is “barbaric.”
There is an abundance of books on the south of France, but few have the forceful personality of this book and its dedication to the spirit of a remarkable woman and food that is vraiment provençal.