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Remembering Lulu Peyraud

1917—2020

by Anthony Lynch

Remembering Lulu Peyraud - Anthony Lynch
Remembering Lulu Peyraud - Anthony Lynch

As I sit here, facing the solemn task of creating an homage to someone who was in effect a grandmother to me, I wonder: How can we properly commemorate Lulu Peyraud?
     How can we commemorate the person who inspired so many people around her, her contagious personality having uplifted family, friends, and visitors over the course of decades? How can we commemorate someone whose culinary influence can still be felt in restaurants in Berkeley and beyond, and in the kitchens of countless amateur cooks? How can we commemorate someone who lived through humanity’s past century, absorbed its wisdom, and returned it in the form of generosity and good humor?
     Most of my memories of Lulu involve sitting around a dining table, relishing the earthy, soulful flavors of great Provençal cuisine, often served from her very own kitchen at Domaine Tempier. It was her husband, Lucien—founder of Tempier’s wine label and godfather of the Bandol appellation—who taught me how to “properly” eat Mediterranean fish: hands only, a napkin attached like a bib, exhibiting a flagrant disrespect for standard table manners. At Tempier, I learned, the pursuit of pleasure overrides adherence to formal etiquette. Why should one ever sacrifice deliciousness?
     This hedonistic, shamelessly informal way of living would inspire my worldview and shape my behavior. When I was invited back to the domaine for a grilled loup de mer, Lulu would glance over at my plate, beaming at the sight of a messy pile of fish debris at the mercy of my soiled fingers: “Comme Lucien!” she would proclaim, the joy in her voice as vivid as the brambly fruit in my glass of Bandol rouge.
     Words on a page can only go so far in celebrating someone I—and many of you—loved dearly. Without a doubt, we will all fondly cherish our memories of Lulu, whether from a rosé-fueled feast at Domaine Tempier or through one of her iconic recipes, immortalized in print by Richard Olney or Alice Waters. But to truly honor Lulu’s memory is to live the way she lived:
     It is treating strangers as if they are family.
     It is savoring the little things, like swimming in the ocean or swinging on a swing.
     It is cracking dirty jokes, at whatever occasion.
     It is drinking more Champagne.
     It is laughing more.
     Bon voyage, Lulu—I hope the wine list up there is decent.





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Warnings


Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol


Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa