I remember borrowing this book numerous times from my local library long after I outgrew a respectable age to check out children's picture books, but I loved reading it over and over and gazing at Ungerer's hilarious illustrations. It's a great fairy tale about a plucky young farm girl named Zeralda who conquers a kid-eating ogre with her culinary skills. She eventually ends up marrying him, which I remember thinking was icky even way back when, but I loved poring over the zany illustrations of what she cooked up. Think Brothers Grimm mashed together with the colorful, exuberant Sixties graphic design sense of Ungerer's better known artist colleagues like Milton Glaser or Seymour Chwast.
Zeralda's food is over-the-top "Gourmet", festooned with encrustations and garnishes. I remember my child self thinking a roast chicken with red high heels was rather fetching and it still makes me grin today.
Instead, I decided to make something riotously colorful and festive but still tasty, and so I put together a version of Antipasto Kebabs to bring to a party recently. There are many versions that one can make, depending on the type of pickled, salty snacks you prefer, but the key is keeping a nice color balance and finding appropriate-length toothpicks to spear them with. I finally found a nice package of four-inch toothpicks (standard sized toothpicks are really too small and bigger wooden skewers go beyond finger food handling).
Antipasto Kebabs a la Zeralda
Wooden toothpicks or skeweres (4 inches long)
1 jar giardiniera (those mixed Italian pickles-cauliflower, celery, peppers, tiny onions)
1 can medium size pitted black olives
1 can whole artichoke hearts packed in water, cut into fourths
8 oz. mozzarella, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
6 slices Genoa salami, folded into fourths
6 slices cappicola, folded into fourths
1/2 stick pepperoni, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Whole basil leaves
Makes 30 skewers
These kebabs can also be drizzled with a little vinaigrette right before serving, and/or garnished with a little snipped parsley.
The artichoke hearts were a little floppy and the kebabs with giardiniera seemed to be gobbled up last, so I would go with more of the popular mozzarella and salami combinations in the future.