In 1989 a remarkable book appeared: Monet’s Table. Written by the wife of Madam Monet’s great-grandson, this book is a treasure hunt. You know that Monet was an incredible artist, a master of light and emotion. What you may not know is that Monet was a renaissance man — someone we today call a polymath. He loved his home at Giverny, his gardens and his food. He worked intensely on each aspect of his life.

In his many years of creation, Monet surely enjoyed his meals. He would invite guests for breakfast or lunch. But never for dinner. Monet went to bed early so he could rise early and use every moment of sunlight for his Impressionist canvases. You may know that he would paint the same scene multiple times at once, moving from one canvas to another as the day moved on and the sunlight shifted.

When not painting, Monet wrote extensive journals about the food prepared at the estate at Giverny. Those handwritten notes were discovered long after his death and then lovingly reassembled by author Claire Jones. The recipes themselves have been reproduced, and perhaps redefined just a touch, by Joel Robuchon in Monet’s own Giverny kitchen.

There are well over a hundred recipes here arranged into the format of a late 19th century cookbook. Chapters cover:

  • Eggs
  • Sauces
  • Appetizers and Side Dishes
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Game
  • Fish
  • Desserts
  • Teas
  • Jams and Preserves

The recipes range from the simple, a Cream of Turnip Soup, to a seven-hour Boneless Beef Roast with Vegetables. The picture for that recipe appears below and is very telling. Monet’s table was as elegant, as colorful as his paintings. In the pages of this book you will find the grand range of recipes Monet enjoyed and recorded in his journal including:

Stuffed Capon with 17 ingredients including ham, chicken liver and gizzards, eggs and Madeira

Duck Pie with veal and sausage

Salt Cod Croquettes with Béchamel Sauce

Brioche with Green Plums

Tartar Sauce, suggested for chicken and fish, made from hardboiled eggs, mustard, herbs and olive oil — not today’s “add stuff to mayonnaise” recipes

Glazed Carrots with chervil, parsley, tarragon, and sugar

Apple Meringue with stewed apples topped by lemon-scented meringue

Monet’s Table a beautiful book with its first hundred pages devoted to life, family and style of Claude Monet. It is only natural, gazing at hone of his pictures, to wonder how someone could have created such beauty. Eating the dishes in the book will give you some glimmers of insight into his life and perhaps into his inspirations.