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Cooking with Toulouse?
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (ta-LOOS la-TREK) was a famous 19th century French artist whose greatest paintings detailed the nightlife of 1880s Paris. He is perhaps best known for the intensely colored and evocative posters that he painted for the Moulin Rouge, a Parisian nightclub.

He is perhaps least well known for his cookbook. That's right. As surprising as it may seem to those who know him only as an artist, Toulouse-Lautrec loved to cook and entertain. After his death, a dear friend of the artist collected his recipes, illustrated them with his drawings, and had the book published. (It was translated into English by Margery Weiner and published in America by Henry Holt and Co. in 1966.)

The book includes such acquired tastes as "Stewed Marmot" (a stocky rodent similar to a gopher). In the recipe, Toulouse-Lautrec recommends, after skinning the marmots, that you remove and set aside their fat for later use. What use could you have for marmot fat, you wonder? Toulouse-Lautrec helpfully suggests rubbing it onto sore knees, ankles and painful sprains, onto the bellies of pregnant women, and into leather shoes to bring back their vitality.

Another delicacy in the book is "Fried Squirrels". Yum! The steps detailed in this recipe include: skin the squirrels, remove their innards, roll them up in a piece of lard, and brown them in good butter in a copper saucepan. Wait until they are a golden brown, then salt them and let them cook on a very low fire. Toulouse-Lautrec cautions against using any spices, as they might detract from the squirrel's own "exquisite, nutty flavor".

Hmmm...perhaps now we understand why he is least known for his cookbook!



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