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Journalist Martin Walker and his wife, Julia Watson, decided to buy a home in the Dordogne region of France more than 15 years ago for many reasons. There was the food, of course. And the wine. And the rich history. What they didn’t anticipate is that all that drew them to the area would end up being the heart of a best-selling mysteries series starring Bruno, chief of police. Walker has just written his 8th book in the Bruno series and a Bruno cook book, co- written by Julia. Martin Walker and Julia Watson talk with us about Bruno and living in their adopted home in France.
- Martin Walker Chief international affairs columnist for UPI and senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Global Business Policy Council. He is a novelist and author of the "Bruno, Chief Of Police" series.
- Julia Watson Novelist and food writer
Recipes From Bruno, Chief Of Police
Most readers know the character Benoît Courrèges - nicknamed "Bruno" by the residents of his small French village - as chief of police. But, as they come to find throughout Martin Walker's eight-part series, the detective also loves to cook elaborate meals.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. When Martin Walker and Julia Watson moved to the Perigord in France, Martin met their village policeman playing tennis. This man, Perot (sp?), became the inspiration for the fictional Bruno. Eight books later, Martin Walker's Bruno, chief of police series is not only an international bestseller, the success of Bruno is drawing tourists to the region and Martin has become the honorary ambassador.
MS. DIANE REHMMartin Walker and Julia Watson join me and throughout the hour, I do welcome your comments, questions. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And Martin and Julia, how wonderful to have you here.
MR. MARTIN WALKEROh, it's lovely to be here on the hour again with you, Diane. I was just thinking it's 25 years ago I was, for the first time, on your show.
REHMWell, and you know how you got here. Julia Watson sent me a note. You were, at the time, with UPI.
WALKERWith The Guardian.
REHMWith The Guardian, forgive me. Julia sent me a note and said, you know, you should have my husband on the Friday News Roundup. Do you take responsibility, Julia?
MS. JULIA WATSONWell, I remember listening to you within about a week of arriving here from Moscow where we had both been foreign correspondents and the show at that point was, still is, divided into the home and the foreign sections. And I thought, Martin really could be terrific on this. So I thought, I know. Will she mind if I send a note? And I did.
REHMYou did and you came on, Martin.
REHMYou were one of the first on that Friday News Roundup. Now, since then, you have left Washington, at least not permanently, I hope, moved to the Perigord, established this wonderful Inspector Bruno and again, Julia Watson was very instrumental in exactly how this came about. Talk about that, Martin.
WALKERWell, when I first wrote the very first one of these and before I sent it off to my agent and publisher, I showed it to Julia, who's always been the first reader of everything I write. And she said, having worked in publishing, Julia said, you know, they're going to take you more seriously if they think it's going to be a series. So write a short paragraph on the five ideas for the next five volumes you have and I did and once again, Julia was right.
REHMHow about that? I mean, you really knew that a publisher would be more open and more interested in a series not just a single book.
WATSONPublishing is extremely competitive these days and the effort it takes to get books reviewed, sold, marketed is such that if you can show a publisher that you are also committed to the venture as a joint pair, then you are going to stand a much greater chance. There are, obviously, exceptions. You can write a book that just hits the nerve at the right time, but in the case of detective fiction, it's going to go far further if you can show that you have a series behind you.
WALKERYou know, Julia is even more responsible for the whole Perigord thing because we'd spent a lot of time visiting friends, French friends, in the Perigord and Julia was staying with them one April and I was in Washington because there was a big NATO conference and I had in interview with President Clinton and I was in the anteroom of the Oval Office when my cell phone rang.
WALKERAnd there was Julia saying, I don't care what you're doing. Drop everything. Get the next plane to France. I've found our house.
WATSONI have to say, I didn't think he was in the Oval Office when I rang, but...
REHMBut did you take off?
WALKERI finished the interview. I loaded up.
REHMYou finished the interview.
WALKERTwo days later, I was arriving in Paris and learning that once again, Julia is always right.
REHMWell, and I can personally attest to the fact that that area and that farm that you purchased is just beautiful. I was fortunate enough to be there when we took 30 of our pre-cruise folks to your farm. You laid out a gorgeous luncheon for us.
WATSONIt was such fun to see them all.
REHMOh, it was just wonderful. So now, Martin, talk about how you came up with the idea of Inspector Bruno.
WALKERWell, I'd -- before I'd went to the Perigord, my books had all been really rather boring nonfiction, politics...
REHMOn Russia and -- sure.
WALKER...history, Russia, and American history and so on. And I arrived in the Perigord and I feel sort of liberated, I don’t know, excited, inspired. I write my first novel, which is called "The Caves Of Perigord." I wanted to carry on writing something about this amazing area. It's the culinary heartland of France. It's one of the most romantic areas on the planet. There's so much history there. And I met this wonderful guy, my village policeman Perot, who spends his time teaching the kids to play tennis in the summer, rugby in the winter.
WALKERHe's a wonderful cook. He goes hunting. He knows everybody in the village and all the villages around. Never arrests anybody, a really decent guy. And I thought, this is a wonderful character and I've got this glorious part of the world to write about. And because he's a policeman, it's going to have to be a mystery. And then, do you remember in 2005 there were those riots in Paris, young, mainly immigrant children, immigrant kids from North Africa who run riot and were burning cars and something like 30,000 cars got burned in this week of rioting.
WALKERAnd I thought then, as I've kept on thinking of it since, I really want to write something about this huge challenge that Europe is still facing with immigration, with refugees, with all of the social challenges that come with this. And so the very first novel was -- begins with the murder of an old Arab, but it brings in lots of French history, bits of French history that have sort of fallen out of the history books.
WALKERThe first one had a theme of the way in which the Vichy police on World War II...
WALKER...deliberately recruited young North Africans to terrorize the farmers in France to try and stop them from supporting the resistance.
REHMSo you were using bits of history, bits of factual information to bring in the various points of these plots that you've created for these now nine books of Inspector Bruno, but also, Julia, he was drawing on your cooking and your ideas for food, working those into the novels.
WATSONIt started when he was saying that he needed to think about Bruno after work. I mean, what was Bruno going to be doing when he wasn't traipsing around the countryside and solving all his various mysteries. And it was then sort of a question, what would interest a country policeman? He's single so obviously, he's not going to be cooked for by girlfriends that often. He has a country cottage so he's outside the town, which supposes that he's got a garden.
WATSONHe's obviously going to be like all French men, planting things in the garden and like most French people, he's going to be cooking. So at that point, Martin would say, all right, it's April. He's having a girlfriend to supper. She's semi-romantic, not quite ready. He wants to impress her. What would he be cooking from his garden in April? And it went from there.
REHMAnd you would say something like?
WATSONIn April? Probably in April, it might be quite nice to have a soup with sorrel, which would be coming through. That would be a refreshing change for the winter and you could make a sort of vichyssoise with that acid tone to it and...
WALKERAnd then, an omelet with (unintelligible) which are the little green buttons of dandelions before they become flowers and they're delicious if you just sort of put then in some duck fat and get them all softened and put them into an omelet. That's one of Perot's traditional dishes.
WATSONPeople shouldn't be frightened about duck fat. It's actually the most healthy fat that you can cook with, although there are, obviously, interested parties who would prefer you not to know that.
REHMExactly. And interested parties who, I must say, are going to adore your new cookbook once it is published in English. We got the only copy that we received was in German.
WALKERWell, my -- the biggest market for my novels is in the German-speaking countries. I'm not sure why, but they were the ones who originally pressed me, urged me to do a cookbook and it's now in discussion with English and U.S. publishers about the rights to the photographs that are owned by the Germans. It's purely a -- it's a matter of contractual discussion. But now that it's won the German cookbook of year award and this world cookbook prize, I think it's bound to get a bigger market than just Germany, but...
REHMAnd you went to China to receive that award?
WALKERWell, every year, the international -- the gourmet international cookbook awards are held in a different country and this year, it happened to be in China. The awful thing was, I was able to get there from France, but Julia, at this time, was on an island in Scotland and the weather was so bad she couldn't get off the island to get to London to get the visa to join me for the award so...
REHMBut you were there.
WALKERI was there.
REHMIn China receiving that award.
WALKERIt was great fun and I just knew that -- I was told I had to be there, but they wouldn't tell me if we'd won anything at all, but...
REHMUntil you got there.
WALKERUntil I got onto the stage and..
REHMOh, for heaven's sake.
WALKER...head the announcement, yes.
REHMMartin Walker, he's the author of "Bruno, Chief of Police" series. His latest is called "The Patriarch." Julia Watson is novelist and food writer. She's co-author with Martin Walker of "The Bruno Cookbook." A little later, we're going to put some of those recipes up on our website. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. If you just joined us, the author of the Inspector Bruno series, Martin Walker, is with me, along with his beautiful wife, Julia Watson, who is co-author of the brand-new cookbook based on the Bruno series. Here, already, a number of emails, one from Lorraine. She said, I recently discovered Mr. Walker's books. They're so interesting and well written. My only complaint is they often make me hungry. Bruno is such a great cook. I'm looking forward to the cookbook.
REHMTell me a little about Inspector Bruno, Martin.
WALKERWell, Inspector Bruno is a guy of about 40. He spent...
REHMA very decent fellow.
WALKERA very decent man. A man who understands the difference between the law, or the letter of the law, and justice. And he prefers justice, even if it gets him into trouble with his superiors. He spent 10 years in the French army. He was in the siege of Sarajevo, where he had his first great love affair with a Bosnian woman. Bruno is aching -- because he was an orphan, he's aching to be a husband and father and find the right woman. But he always seems to fall for extremely strong-minded, powerful, independent women...
REHMWho are not interested in settling down and having children.
WALKERAbsolutely. And so his -- he's constantly living in this state of being in love but not sure where it's going to end up. Now, since I live in a household with a very strong, independent-minded wife and two very strong, independent-minded daughters, I can sort of sympathize a bit with Bruno. But they're very kind. They let me have a male dog for my testosterone shortage.
REHMBut you know what's beautiful to me and what struck me, Julia, when I got to your home in France, was how you have created this gorgeous, bright-red, curled hairdo. Tell me why you did that.
WATSONI've had such trouble with my hair all my life because it's -- well, I'd like to say it's naturally curly -- it's naturally frizzy. And I spent hours every week, twice a week, straightening it and looping it in the sort of way that I knew my mother approved of. And when my children left home, I suddenly got to the point where I thought, enough of this. It's such a waste of time. And it went from blond to red, partly because that's a little bit of my family color. But my daughter was very anxious at that point -- she was going to university -- to make her hair blue. And she also wanted to add postman's bubble wrap and electrical wire into it.
WATSONShe was going through a Goth period. And I thought, this is so horrifying to me. If I make my hair red, maybe she'll be appalled by what her mother has done to such a degree, it might delay her efforts with the blue. It actually worked for about three weeks and then she put the whole Goth thing in. But at that point, I thought, I love this red, actually.
REHMAnd does Julia represent one of the characters in your book?
WALKERAh. Well, it's...
WATSONI'm glad you asked that. I want to know the answer.
WALKERI mean, there were two powerful, important women in Bruno's life. There's Isabelle, a French police woman, and then there is the woman who's originally known as the mad English woman -- a red-haired English woman who is a wonderful cook.
WALKERPamela. And I remember our daughter, our younger daughter, Fanny was saying that she thought that mum was going to be -- well, had to be the model for Pamela. Absolutely not. You know, this was -- this -- long before Julia had red hair was the first description of Pamela. And I wouldn't dare try and base any character at all upon this inimitable wife of mine.
WATSONI should think not.
REHMNow, the other thing that Inspector Bruno has, he has a group of male friends with whom he dines regularly. And each of those men cooks.
REHMI mean, they're really good, thoughtful cooks. They use -- they search for these beautiful things that the inspector's dog is trained to do, rather than a pig.
WALKERThis is the truffle -- the famous diamond noir, the black diamond, sort of the Perigord. They are -- the Perigord is famous for its truffles and for its foie gras. It really is the culinary heartland of France. And the -- in December, January, February, we get these black diamonds -- we get these black melanosporum truffles, which really are the finest tasting ones in the world. Although there are some people who would prefer the Italian whites. But I prefer the Perigord black ones. They give an extraordinary taste. If you just put them in with -- put them into a container with some eggs overnight, and it seeps through into the flavor of the eggs for the most wonderful omelet.
WALKERBut this idea of the chaps eating together, that's based upon real life. Because every -- when I'm in France, every Tuesday evening, with Perot, with the Baron, with another neighbor, we chaps get together and we cook for another on a weekly, rotation basis. And we are -- it's quite competitive to make sure that your food is good and up to the standard required.
REHMAnd the wine as well is quite competitive.
WALKERWell, the wine is -- we're very, very lucky because we're in the Bergerac area of wine, which is probably the best rapport -- relationship, between quality and price you can find anywhere. It's really -- it's always suffered from being just a bit inland from the Bordeaux. But the quality is Bordeaux level, the prices are a fraction of Bordeaux. I have to say that because I'm not a grand consul of the wine of Bergerac.
REHMI gather, I gather. That is just marvelous.
WALKERBut it is wonderful wine. And we have great fun visiting the vineyards together when we're going and searching. One of the things we do, we always play the lottery, these guys. We play the lottery together and any winnings we get, we go down to the vineyards and we spend it with local winemakers.
REHMNow, is there a nearby café or tavern, like the one that appears in the Inspector Bruno books, Julia?
WATSONThere are several. I think Martin has probably put together a conglomeration of about three. The great thing about the Bruno books is that they do reflect the life there as it is, in fact, lived. There's not very much fantasy in respect to the background that Martin writes about. It's a long way from Paris and there is, to some degree, a certain sort of emotional distance from Paris. They're extremely proud of the neighborhood that they live in. And they've very keen on maintaining all of those old French traditions -- not just in the cooking that they all do, but how they meet, where they meet. And any café or pub that gets pretentions above its station, doesn't really last very long.
REHMAll right. We have a caller I'd like to welcome into the program. Let's go first to Jerry in Winston-Salem, N.C. You're on the air.
JERRYThank you, Diane. This year we traveled to France. And because of reading the Bruno series books, we had to go to Perigord. We had a wonderful little lunch one day in a small square. And the proprietor fixed us a very nice omelet and a salad for eight euros. And I asked him, Hey, did you know Martin Walker? And he said, No. I showed him a picture of Martin. He says, Oh, yes, Martin. He's my friend.
JERRYI will call him now. And he calls Martin. And of course, he doesn't pick up. He must have been busy. But a few moments later, an elegant woman -- much like yourself, Diane -- comes up and her name was Teres. And Francis calls her over and says, Teres, this gentleman wants to meet Martin. So the next day she arranges a coffee for us near his hometown. And I met Mr. Walker who was very gentle and very nice.
REHMOh, how wonderful.
JERRYAnd spent maybe half an hour speaking with this silly tourist. And I got to meet Bruno.
WALKERIndeed. Or Perot, the policeman. I remember it very well. It was good to see you. Teres was the -- is an extraordinary woman. She's a -- oh, she would only be French. She's about 6'3" tall, slim as a model, very, very stylish, always impeccably dressed. She was married -- the wife of the mayor of a nearby village. And she and her husband have set up a wonderful thing in our little village of France, which is we get now the DirecTV broadcasting of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
REHMHuh. How wonderful.
WALKERAnd it's sold out every single time.
WATSONOne hundred and sixty seats gone in half an hour.
REHMOh, my God.
WALKERIn a town of fewer than 2,000 people.
REHMIsn't that wonderful? I'm pleased to hear that. Tell me about the latest book, "The Patriarch." It centers around a colonel. He is very, very elegant. Tell me what goes on here.
WALKERWell, this book -- if you remember, when we first met, Diane, I first came on your show, I'd just arrived in Washington for The Guardian, after four years in Moscow during the Perestroika period -- and this book really begins there. Because I was invited to a French ambassador's reception for a group of old World War II heroes -- Frenchmen -- who had flown for the Soviet Air Force in something called the Normandy-Niemen squadron, which became the most decorated single unit of the French Air Force. They shot down nearly 300 enemy planes. And at the end of the war, Stalin said, thank you very much, guys. You've done so well. All of the planes you've been flying, they're yours. Take them back to France. And they'd been flying these Soviet Yak-9 planes.
WALKERSo this -- my novel begins with the birthday of one of these guys. Because I met these guys at the reception. And I also met some of the Russian mechanics and the women who'd been packing parachutes, who'd been with them. And I also met the old security guy, whose job was to watch them. And I asked him, you know, what was the toughest part of your job? And he said, it was keeping the Russian woman away from these dashing, romantic, French airmen.
WALKERAnd so the idea began, I think, to germinate then. And so we begin with the 90th birthday of one of these Normandy-Niemen heroes.
REHMAnd Inspector Bruno is pushing a woman in a wheelchair.
REHMA very, very famous and important woman, so that a murder occurs -- well, a death...
REHM...occurs. We find out later what really happens in this book. But you weave together so many strands. And in the midst of it all, Julia, he's able to bring in the food, the preparation, the table setting, the china. How much of that did you help with?
WALKERAbout 100 percent.
WATSONThank you, yes. I think, I mean, the important thing about the cooking was that it gives a change of pace. And it -- Martin is also very kind and being supportive in my feeling that we've sort of lost track of food in general. It's now become so much an entertainment. It's very cheap to do television cooking programs. And people are using food, I think, in the wrong sort of way. They look at it and they think, this is very fun to watch. And then they go and call a pizza and get it delivered. And in France, in the countryside, certainly, that's still -- that's really not the case. I can't obviously speak to Paris, where people are as busy as they are in Washington.
WATSONBut there is an attempt in the countryside to make sure that your planning for your day will accommodate the idea that, at the end of it, you will be able to have some sit-down, where you will get together and you will all join in the preparation of food and the experience of enjoying it. And it makes a tremendous difference to the stress of the day as well.
REHMAnd certainly to a family.
WATSONIndeed to a family.
REHMTruly. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." The question is, how much time are you there on the farm and how much time are you traveling?
WALKERWell, I'm in France, oh, five to six months of the year. And I have to do quite a lot of book tours these days. So I'm just about to start on a U.S. book tour that's taking me from coast to coast. But then I go directly to Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair. Then I'll be in Switzerland and Austria and Poland. And then I'll be back here, I hope, for Thanksgiving. So we keep an apartment here in Washington because this is where we raised our children, it's where we have so many friends. We spent over 20 years here.
REHMYou used to have a home right there on Macomb Street.
WALKERThat's right, Cleveland Park.
WATSONWe did. Yeah.
WALKERAnd we love Washington.
WALKERAnd so many of our friends are here, that we just love being here and love coming back.
WATSONWe got to know all our friends by walking a dog.
REHMThat's exactly right. I do the same thing. And you meet so many good people that way.
WALKERWell, particularly with a Bassett Hound, which has always been our dog.
REHMAh, yes. Ah, yes. Now, are you cooking for Thanksgiving, Julia?
WATSONI have a friend who is such a fine cook -- in fact, two or three friends who are such fine cooks -- that I hope very much that they will be cooking and I'll be eating.
WALKERIt's not easy to be really creative with a Thanksgiving dinner.
WATSONOh, I don't agree.
WALKERNo? Oh, okay. Oh, I thought it was going to be roast turkey and that was it.
WATSONWell, the roast turkey is just the vehicle for all of the exciting side dishes and stuffings. And one friend has this wonderful cornmeal and chile stuffing, which is -- just takes the...
REHMCornmeal and chile?
WATSONOh, it's got heat to it. It's a Southern stuffing and it is sensational. And we have the turkey, I think, mostly the second day, cold, with cranberry sauce and good slabs of bread.
WALKERWhat I'll be thinking about is people over in France probably eating stuffed neck of goose and stuffing the goose with prunes that are themselves stuffed with bits of foie gras. Oh, it's wonderful.
REHMYeah. Yeah. Martin, what about all your reporting and all the work you did, not only for The Guardian, but there for UPI? Does that ever draw you back in?
WALKERYes, I still write pieces for -- longer pieces for some magazines, and more about economics these days. And, in fact, I've got a book that's just come out in Germany that came out of one of my -- a lot of my work with the economic think tank, for A. T. Carney, the consultancy, which is called Germany 2064. And it's based upon a job we did with Angela Merkel and the German government on trying to envisage the infrastructure needs of Europe and Germany over the next 50 years. And, from there, we began to think -- but we're going to have to think about reforming education and reforming the tax system. And all of these ideas began to germinate, so I wrote a novel about Germany in 2064.
REHMBut it would seem that that would have to take into account what's happening now.
REHMAnd this mass migration. And how Europe, as a whole, is undergoing such change.
WALKERIt's -- and my two characters, although they're both -- my leading characters, although they're both German, one of them, the policeman is from a Spanish family of Spanish immigrants who came in, and the other one is a Greek woman who came -- whose parents came in at this time. Because one of the things that's really remarkable about Germany is that they were assuming -- the government assumption, when we were doing these seminars with the chancellor, was that the population would drop by about 20 million to about 60 million over the next 40-odd years. And I was just saying, no, the immigration figures are such, you're going to be 80 million-plus, but they won't be Germans.
REHMWow. Martin Walker and his wife Julia Watson. We'll take a short break. Your calls when we come back.
REHMAnd welcome back. If you've just tuned in, great friends of mine, Martin Walker, who reported for many years for The Guardian and then for UPI, his wife Julia Watson, who is also reporting. That's where you all met, was it not, in Russia?
WATSONWell, just before, but we met in, I suppose, a standard way that you meet people in the business, at a party.
REHMAt a party.
WATSONBut we got married and very quickly after that were off into Moscow in the Soviet days.
WALKERWith a newborn baby.
REHMWith a newborn baby. And for whom were you reporting, Julia?
WATSONI had -- when I met Martin, I was working for a Sunday newspaper called The Observer, and when I saw the apartment that we had, which was about the size of two shoes and we had one child of two and three quarters, and I was seven months pregnant when I arrived in Moscow...
REHMOh my God.
WATSONI said to Martin, I don't think that you and I can work for the same politically biased newspapers. I have to do the opposite because otherwise this is going to be a such a tension between us, trying to beat each other at the same game. So I went to work for the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, which are on the opposite side of the coin. So what I couldn't write in my paper, he did in The Guardian and vice versa.
REHMWhat a way to work it out, Julia. Here is something from Mike in Southeast Washington, who says, we enjoy the Bruno novels, look forward to seeing the cookbook. Julia Watson's Eat Washington blog and its perceptive reviews of ethnic groceries was a wonderful part of the D.C. food community. I gather that is no longer on the website?
WATSONI'm so tickled pink. Thank you, Michael.
REHMOh, isn't that wonderful?
WATSONI'm absolutely thrilled. It's not anymore. I did this -- I did this website without really knowing enough about technology, and I thought when I was putting aside, you know, having to do the cookbook and see what was happening in France and so forth, I thought, well, I'll just set it aside because I can't really pull the wool over everybody's eyes and make like I'm in Washington when in fact I'm in France.
WATSONAnd I used to spend every weekend checking out the various ethnic markets to find if they were still open and what they were selling and so forth, and I thought I really can't do that long-distance, it wouldn't be right. And so I thought, okay, I just stop paying the server. And of course I didn't know that when you stop paying the server, they don't put your website in a cupboard and wait to paid again. It disappeared completely.
WATSONAnd I would like to revive it, and I think there are ways of doing it because I am now back in Washington enough to be able to pick it up again.
REHMGood. And I think it really would be appreciated.
WATSONOh, I'm so thrilled that Mike does.
REHMTruly, and you can find some of Bruno's favorite recipes, along with photographs, on our blog at our website, drshow.org. Another emailer wants to know whether you need to start the series at the beginning. Martin?
WALKERNo, every -- every book is self-standing. It probably -- it probably helps to start with number one because then you get the whole drama of Bruno's romantic life and entanglements and faults, but no, each one is self-contained. What's interesting about the photographs that you're putting up was when we were first discussing the cookbook, Julia said one thing. She said, look, most cookbook photographs that you see these days are not real. They are not taken in kitchens, they are taking in studios.
WALKERWith stylists and staging and cosmetics and so on.
REHMYeah, of course.
WALKERWe are going to have to do something authentic. So every photograph of the food in our cookbook is what came out of our kitchen.
REHMI love it.
WATSONIt's -- you know, if there's a splash on the plate, there's a splash on the plate.
WATSONWe left it as it was. Aside from anything else, it's supposed to be the Bruno cookbook. So Bruno's not going to go around with little foams and infusions and dots of this and scrapes of the other. He's interested in how it's going to taste in the mouth, and that's the important thing.
REHMNow when those of us who were on the pre-cruise in the Bordeaux region of France, arrived at your home, tell us the dishes you served us.
WATSONWe had a cold soup to start with, which I poured from two jugs. In one jug was vichyssoise, the leek and potato cold soup, and in the other jug was a green soup with sorrel in it. And if you pour the two together at the same time into a soup plate, then you get half and half in the soup, which always looks quite amusing.
WATSONThe colors, one side green and the other side white. And then we had...
REHMAnd the flavors, the flavors blend.
WATSONOne is sort of silky and creamy.
WATSONAnd the other is slightly acid.
WATSONAnd then of course the Dordogne is famous for its ducks and not just what they do with the foie gras. They eat them -- we eat so much duck that I always think I'm going to come back to Washington with webbed feet by the end of the summer. And so the next is something that you don't often see but which is cooked in houses rather than restaurants. When you take the magret breast, it has, like chicken do, the under-fillet, which are sold separately. And we cook those very quickly in a sauce of mustard and vinegar, so it's slightly sweet and sour, and a little bit of honey.
WATSONAnd we had that with a famous local dish of potatoes, which are fried in garlic and parsley.
WALKERAnd duck fat.
WATSONAnd duck fat, of course duck fat. And then what I wanted to do was not just show you the other specialty of the area, which is walnuts, so we had a walnut tart, but in France, they have strawberries that are really strawberries, and I wanted to be able to show you that strawberries don't just taste like those radishes you can buy in January that are as hard as nails. In France, if you're going to buy a strawberry, you have to know what you're buying it for.
WATSONIf you're going to make jam, you'll by a (unintelligible) . If you want to have it just strawberries with a little bit of sugar on, you'll have mara des bois, which tastes like wild strawberries. And so on. And so what we had also was, to show the difference between the flavors, is we also offered two different types of strawberries, as well as a huge platter of cheese, the local cheese. We had about 10.
REHMIt was all divine.
WATSONI'm so glad you liked it.
REHMAnd the day itself was glorious.
WATSONYou brought that. The day before it had been bucketing down.
REHMAll right, let's go back to the phones, to Eva, who's in Matthews, North Carolina. You're on the air.
EVADiane, it's a privilege to be on your show, and what a lovely conversation and topic.
EVALongtime fan. Question to wife, author. Being myself from Europe and looking at today's politics and mixing it with this wonderful culinary and lifestyle description we hear about, the part of France and Europe, do you have any concern that this massive population influx of different culture, looking at different population growth in a traditional European society versus the new immigrant societies, that in one or two generations, which may not assimilate but rather going to keep their culture anymore, what we observe both in the U.S. and in Europe, that the traditional French or German life will be substantially diminished, including the culinary part?
WALKERIt's a really good question. It's one I keep trying to consider or to write about in my books because it probably is the biggest single issue for Europe today. I think there are three points to bear in mind. The first one is that the -- in most of European countries, certainly in France and Britain and Germany, the three biggest, immigrants make up already around about 11 percent of the population. So it's a pretty large portion.
WALKERAnd in France in particular, the vast majority of those are from North Africa in origin, whereas in Britain and in Germany, around about half of the immigrants are from other European countries, whether Eastern Europe like Poland or Spain or Portugal and Italy and so on. So we already do have a very large amount of migration.
WALKERSecond point is that most of the migration has been hugely beneficial. I mean, Britain had this terrible reputation for food, and it was Chinese restaurants and Indian restaurants that began to civilize it and to teach us about international foods. And the same thing is happening in France, where Vietnamese food is now an absolute standard. So there is a hugely enriching part of all of this.
WALKERAnd the final aspect, I think, is that an awful lot of what we're seeing at the moment is, I think, a particularly temporary phenomenon that comes from the Syrian civil war, it comes from the way in which a large number of people have got into people trafficking, into human trafficking, making large amounts of money from putting people into these rickety boats, sending them across the Mediterranean, many of the drowning, and it's never a good idea to make big issues policy at a time when you're under a kind of sentimental pressure that images of drowning children have started to put upon people.
WALKERI mean, Europe is a rich and large continent, 500 million people, that can take an awful lot. On the other hand, there is going to be a limit. What my fear is is that if demographic -- democratic governments and parties don't find a way to make sure that we plan and arrange for this kind of influx then we might find ourselves with extremely right-wing, even fascist, governments who will be taking their own decisions, and that to me is the real nightmare.
REHMAnd yet look what's happened in the election in England. Were you surprised?
WATSONI don't think that I was surprised by the election of Corbyn to run the Labour Party. I think what was interesting was if you were talking to particularly young people, who haven't felt the need, perhaps before, to vote nationally, although they have been voting in small ways, they have been very much consolidated by the idea of globalism, meaning that they had lost track of having a handle on anything. They have been voting sort of locally for issues. But they were out in droves for this election, which was interesting. The election of the conservatives I don't think came as a surprise to anyone.
WALKERI think the same impetus which brought in Corbyn in the Labour Party in Britain is exactly the same anti-establishment view that we're seeing here in the USA over Donald Trump.
WALKERAnd that we're seeing in France with the Front National, Marine Le Pen, and that we're seeing in fact in the Sunday election in Greece with Syriza, anti-establishment...
REHMComing right back into power.
WALKERExactly. I mean, I think that there's -- we really do have a crisis of legitimacy throughout the democratic world at the moment. What's...
REHMAt the same time, Martin, one could argue that the election of the Labour Party leader could point to the strength of Bernie Sanders in this country.
WALKERWho is currently leading the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.
REHMAbsolutely, yeah. All right, let's go to Brighton, Michigan. Jean, you're on the air.
JEANHello. I'm sorry, I haven't been able to read the books, and I'm just wondering where the region in France is that you're talking about.
WALKEROkay, it's called the Perigord, and it's just inland from Bordeaux and in other words about five hours south of Paris by train, about two hours from Bordeaux itself. It's southwestern France. It's...
WALKEROn the map it's called the Dordogne.
WALKERWell, that's the official name of the department, and the big river of the -- is called the Dordogne. But we all call it the Perigord because that's the medieval name that dates back to the old first tales of King Arthur of the round table. It was the land that Sir Lancelot gave to his son, Sir Galahad.
REHMI hope that answers it, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And here's a cooking question from Peter in Raleigh, North Carolina. You're on the air.
PETERHey, good afternoon. Quick question, I wanted to get your opinion about cassoulet. I don't know if you all have already brought that up, but my in-laws live in Bordeaux, and I went to Toulouse and had cassoulet for the first time, and I just felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
WATSONI envy you.
WATSONIt takes baked beans to a whole new level.
WALKERThere is a bit of a dispute or a bit of a tension between the people of the Perigord and the people of Toulouse. The people in the Perigord reckon that a cassoulet is not really complete without a stuffed neck of goose in it, whereas in Toulouse, they insist upon their Toulouse sausages. But it's the beans that make it all and the depth of that sauce.
REHMDo you have a recipe for cassoulet in the cookbook?
WATSONWe don't have a recipe for cassoulet but we have a recipe for a cousin, which is -- it's a bean stew that is made with -- it's got the same cassoulet base of tomatoes and onions, but they also have, in order to enrich it, a rind of pork, which you may or may not wish to eat as part of the dish. But it's very much a peasant version because of course cassoulet can come expensive. So you leave out the expensive bits.
WATSONOr you could make the cassoulet on the basis of that and just throw in the expensive bits.
REHMAnd to Salisbury, Maryland. Todd, you're on the air.
TODDThank you very much, Diane. I've listened to you now for longer than either of us would like to say.
REHMThat's fine, lovely.
TODDAnd love it all the time.
TODDYour program is -- and I've known Martin for a long time. He may or may not remember me from our time together in Brussels.
TODDWhen I worked for the U.S. Mission to the EU, and Martin was with Guardian.
WALKERI remember it very well.
TODDYes, anyway, but I want to talk to Julia at this time. Martin, I'd love to talk with you, but all the things you talk about, my mouth is watering from all of this discussion, and I need to get that cookbook right away. Fortunately, my wife and I -- my wife is German, and I both cook, we both read German, and I'd like to know about the German cookbook, where it's available or how to best get it and does it have a different name.
WALKERThere it's called "Bruno's Cookbook," and it's published by Diogenes, and it's available on Amazon.de. But you can also find out how to get a hold of it from my website, brunochiefofpolice.com.
REHMOh, how wonderful.
WALKERAnd over to Julia.
REHMSo how long do you think it's going to be before they sort out all these disagreements?
WALKERWell, I'm so -- getting so cross with the publishers that if they don't sort it out, I think I might have to publish it myself in English or something like that.
WALKERYeah, but it's -- it's going to have to come next year because I don't want to put up with delays much longer.
WATSONOur daughter, who runs the website, is absolutely inundated with emails, and she is urging us to do something about it because she's finding it extraordinary keeping up-to-date with the number of requests for it.
REHMAnd it's the photographs that are at issue. Why would they be at issue?
WALKERWell because it was the German publisher who paid for the photographer to come to spend 10 days with us, and food photography of this quality is not cheap.
WATSONHe's an award-winning photographer in the food world.
REHMI see, I see.
WATSONSo he came pricey.
REHMHe's called Klaus Einwanger, and he won the European Food Photography Prize for the year before. So he's...
REHMWell, you two take the prize from me.
REHMI love you both. You're just wonderful. It's so good to have you here. You were so generous with our NPR travelers.
WALKEROh, they're great people. We really enjoyed it.
WATSONPlease come back.
REHMWe will come back someday. Martin Walker, he is author of the "Bruno, Chief Of Police" series. His latest is called "The Patriarch." Julia Watson is a novelist and food writer. Together with Martin, she has written their new cookbook. Congratulations, great to see you.
WATSONThank you, and you.
REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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