David’s favorite picnic food is tian. She asserts that it’s simple for the experienced cook, especially if you have a tian, the Provençal earthenware casserole it is cooked in. You also need freshly baked bread, butter, cheese, and wine.
David’s recipe is helpful: “The dish consists of gratin of green vegetables, spinach, and chard (blettes), sometimes mixed with marrows, all finely chopped, and first melted in—this is essential—olive oil. For this reason, the dish is to be found in olive-growing areas. But from one region to another, the dish is subject to all kinds of variations, which give it its local cachet. Up in the hills, they do not despise the addition of salt cod. On the coast, this is replaced with fresh sardines or anchovies.
This savoury mosaic can also be enriched with a few cloves of garlic, a cupful of rice, or a handful of chickpeas. Another refinement is to thicken it with eggs and cover the top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.”
When David died in 1992, guests brought food to her memorial service, and all dined en pique-nique. It’s not known if anyone thought to bring along a tian.
Featured Image: Cover for A Book of Mediterranean Food by David Minton
See (1950, rev. 1962); French Country Cooking (1951, rev. 1958); Summer Cooking (1955, rev. 1965); An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. Jill Norman (ed). (1984 ); “Eating out in Provincial France” was published in Petits Propos Culinaire (1980); Pageants & Picnics (2005)