Food and romance: they just go together, don’t they? Like strawberries and cream, or champagne and caviar, they are each other’s perfect complement. What could be better than curling up on the sofa with a good romantic novel and a box of Belgian chocolates?
Both of them engage our sensual side. So perhaps it is no wonder if food plays a significant part in the pages of romantic fiction. What could be more alluring than the sexy hero preparing a sumptuous meal for the heroine? Than the two of them sharing a candlelit dinner, and feeding each other across the table with their fingers?
When I decided to set a novel in rural France, it was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that the local cuisine – along with the landscape – should form a major strand in the atmosphere of the book. The Tapestry of Love tells the story of divorcee Catherine Parkstone, who sells her house in England and moves to a remote hamlet in the Cévennes mountains to set up in business as a seamstress. Her intriguing neighbour Patrick Castagnol, who lives in the house across the little valley from her own, prepares for her dishes in the local peasant tradition, using the produce of the those wooded hills: chestnuts and forest raspberries, trout from the mountain streams, wild mushrooms and wild boar. In turn, she roasts spatchcocked guinea fowl for him with rosemary from her garden, and serves him a fruit tart made with tiny Mirabelle plums which she picks from her terraced orchard.
The meals which Patrick cooks for Catherine (and vice versa) became, for me, as real and vivid as the characters themselves. When the novel was done, I found that I wanted to recreate the meals for myself, just as Catherine and Patrick had prepared them. So I set about turning the dishes from the pages of the book into reality… and produced, in the process, a set of cévenol recipes to accompany the novel!
I have already shared the recipes with family and friends who have read the book and wanted to give them a try. If any RNA blog readers would like to have a go at conjuring your own taste of the Cévennes, I’d love to share them with you, too. Just send me a message via my website at
and I’ll be delighted to e-mail you the recipe booklet.