Cooking with Virginia Woolf, Valerie Stivers, The Paris Review

One of my favorite features of the Paris Review, Cooking With… Each one is a look at an important literary work with a culinary event of importance to the narrative. In this case, a boeuf en daube in To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Wolf.

The boeuf en daube in To the Lighthouse, a 1927 novel by Virginia Woolf about an English family on vacation in the Hebrides, is one of the best-known dishes in literature. Obsessed over for many chapters by the protagonist, Mrs. Ramsay, and requiring many days of preparation, it is unveiled in a scene of crucial significance. This “savory confusion of brown and yellow meats,” in its huge pot, gives off an “exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice.” It serves as a monument to the joys of family life and a celebration of fleeting moments. Thus, it is with fear and trembling that I suggest that Woolf’s boeuf en daube, from a cook’s perspective, is a travesty, and that its failures may prove instructive.

The recipe at the end looks well written as is the article on To the Lighthouse. I will pursue both.