As I am sure most of you know, van Gogh led a tragic life, fraught with mental illness, he suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and though he worried about his mental stability, he often neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure.
His diet was certainly sub-par. He often would sacrifice sustenance for art supplies. He was known to primarily live off of dry bread with a bit of cheese, and a bottle of wine.
There are several theories of how van Gogh died. The most popular one is that he shot himself in desperation to end his torturous existence.
He became famous after his suicide, and exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge".
Today, van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings to have ever sold at auction, and his legacy is honored by a museum in his name, the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the world's largest collection of his paintings and drawings.
It would be fascinating to have met van Gogh. Perhaps horrifying, but fascinating none the less.
If I were who I am today, but was able to bounce through the space and time problem, I would visit van Gogh at his final residence, the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, and set a simple table and serve him a delicious meal.
I imagine it might calm his soul... momentarily.
Gâteaux de Crabe pour Vincent (Crab Cakes for Vincent)
based on the famous “Le Bec-Fin” recipe
14 oz. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp. butter
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 bunch scallions, sliced into thin rings
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Belgian endive heads, chopped into 1-inch lengths
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 C. Fond Blanc de Volaille
1 tsp. Sugar
2 whole eggs, cold
2 C. heavy cream, icy cold
1 pinch salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 C. olive oil
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 lb. haricots verts, trimmed and blanched (optional)
1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Tabasco
1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, picked clean
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Chill the shrimp along with the bowl and blade of a food processor in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Sauté the scallions in 1 tablespoon butter until just wilted. Set aside to cool.
Place the shrimp in the processor and puree on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth and shiny. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs. Process again until the mixture is smooth and shiny, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl again. With the machine running, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Scrape the bowl and process again to make sure the cream is completely incorporated. Remove the mixture and place in a bowl. Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire, and Tabasco, then gently fold in the cooled scallions and the crab meat.
Place four or five 3- inch oiled ring molds into a lightly oiled nonstick pan. Fill each mold with the mixture, smoothing off the tops with a spoon. Over medium heat, cook the crab cakes until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Once the cakes have browned, push down on the ring molds to cut off any excess crab mixture and remove the rings from around the cakes. Remove the crab cakes from the pan. Repeat the procedure until all of the crab mixture has been cooked. (The cakes may be made up to 1 day ahead, up to this point, and refrigerated.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the crab cakes on a buttered nonstick baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes or until the cakes are springy to the touch.
In a small pot, slowly heat the sauce over low heat without letting it boil. Place a small mound of the endive in the center of each serving plate. Top with 1 or 2 crab cakes then ladle the sauce over the crab cakes and serve immediately.
Place the egg yolk, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and Fond Blanc de Volaille into a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the olive oil until the sauce is emulsified (creamy looking). Add the whole-grain mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste.
The Endive and Haricots Verts
In a small sauté pan, heat the butter and the lemon juice. Add the cut endive and the sugar and toss together. Cook over medium heat until the endive is wilted but not soft and the pan juice has been absorbed. Season to taste and set aside.