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L'O à la Bouche --- Cookbook Review

By Sébastien Chambru and Matthieu Cellard

L'O à la Bouche --- the fantastic book about fish from the oceans, rivers and lakes from Sebastien Chambru and Matthieu Cellard

Watch our exclusive video interview with Sébastien Chambru

Sébastien Chambru of restaurant Le Moulin de Mougins is of a new generation of chefs who can’t help but push boundaries, who venture forth boldly, eager for knowledge and deeply respectful of every “thing,” whether it’s a tiny bouquet of shiso, a forest in Burgundy or a rare fish. This respect is evident in L’O à la Bouche, his mouthwatering (l’eau à la bouche means mouthwatering), magnificently photographed ode to seafood.

Unless you’re a regular underwater explorer, you will never have looked so closely into the eyes of cod or bream, nor pondered the slightly melancholy expression on the face of a tuna or the feisty countenance of an eel. Chambru doesn’t just celebrate fish. He elevates them via stunning images (from Matthieu Cellard), the liberal use of white space in the lay-out and, of course, his masterful selection of recipes, which he claims are easy to execute, in an exclusive video interview with Sophie Gayot.

Divided into saltwater fish, fresh water fish and shellfish and crustaceans, L’O à la Bouche includes sophisticated creations, some with clever names such as “Chaos de Sardines” (Sardine Chaos) or “Vapeur de Truite” (Trout Vapor) but also "simple" dishes such as mackerel with sake. We particularly enjoyed Chambru’s poetic musings with reflections on the paradox of life, the fact that we only “die twice” or that eels “electrify” their prey, much like certain counts from Transylvania. (We are paraphrasing liberally here; after all, the book is in French!) These philosophical explorations partly deliver interesting facts about each fish, partly supply witty plays on words, but they all point to a deep respect for the métier: the bounty of the sea, lakes and rivers, the creativity it inspires.

The legendary Roger Vergé, who turned a sixteenth-century mill into Le Moulin de Mougins in the late 1960s, and who has influenced countless toques, writes in the foreword that there has been much brouhaha about a “Moulin School” that has brought forth greats such as Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud and Daniel Bouley. In this lofty company, he places Chambru, who this year celebrated his two-year anniversary at Le Moulin de Mougins, and who like Vergé is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, as of 2007. How good it is to have a mouth to enjoy white seabream (“Sar” in French) — “une vraie Dancing Queen!” But also to have eyes, to behold beauty. Chambru has succeeded in pleasing both.

The book is available at the boutique of Le Moulin de Mougins.

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