Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher tells the story of Madame Pamplemousse who sells “the strangest, the rarest, the most delicious, the most extraordinarily, the most incredible-tasting edibles in all the world,” Camembert the cat who cooks, and Madeline, who is sent by her parents each summer to stay with her uncle, Monsieur Lard, a greedy, fat bully (who looks an awful lot like a pig). Her uncle owns a famous restaurant, the Squealing Pig. His ambition in life is to be recognized as a great chef, but he is a terrible cook and is jealous of anyone who is better (which is pretty much everyone). When Madeline is sent out to buy supplies for the restaurant, she stumbles upon the Incredible Edibles and buys a jar of paté of North Atlantic Sea Serpent. The patrons of the Squealing Pig have never enjoyed their dinner so much and Monsieur Lard must have more. He hatches a plan to have Madeline steal Madame Pamplemousse’s recipes, but by the end of the story tables are turned, Monsieur Lard flees Paris to drive a van selling chips on the sea coast and Madeline and Madame Pamplemousse triumph.
Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles is an enjoyable tale and a great introduction to the gastronomic delights of Paris and French cooking. The pen and ink drawings by Sue Hellard add a lot of character to the story and include some great views of Paris. Locating or identifying some of the edibles described in the book might encourage a reluctant eater to try new things as well as explore the city. The description of the shop and the foods found there make me hungry just thinking about them.
Madame Pamplemousse’s shop is located “in the city of Paris, on the banks of the river, tucked away from the main street down a narrow, winding alley.” While there isn’t really a 62 Rue d’Escargot, I think it would be fun to hunt for the store, or paté of North Atlantic Sea Serpent, in any of the charcuteries you might come across. I’m sure there are a few charcuteries down winding roads by the river. Of course, you could just limit yourself to hunting for patisseries….