August 4, 2013

Author Q & A: Seconds Chance

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

Mary Rolph Lamontagne can show you how to take that bit of leftover red cabbage taking up space in the fridge and turn it into soup. Or Asian chicken salad. Or fish tacos.

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Author Mary Rolph Lamontagne lives most of the year in South Africa but spends her summers in Prouts Neck.

Courtesy photo

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WHEN: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Li’l Liza Jane’s, 524 Black Point Rd., Scarborough

INFO: 510-1944;

LAMONTAGNE’S BOOK is also available at K Collette, 100 Commercial St., Portland

You get the idea.

In her new book, "EATS: Enjoy All the Seconds" (Advantage, $29.99), she does the same with strawberries, zucchini, eggplant, butternut squash, spinach -- all those leftover fruits and vegetables that end up rotting in your crisper because you either bought too much or don't know what to do with them.

A resident of Prouts Neck and South Africa, Lamontagne was inspired by what she learned while working as a chef in South African game reserves, and was motivated by some shocking statistics. On average, she discovered, North Americans throw out 40 percent of the food that they buy or grow, and 23 percent of all methane emissions come from uneaten, decomposing food.

A native of Montreal, Lamontagne graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and then attended the Ritz Escoffier Culinary School in Paris. She has worked as an event planner and a food journalist.

Lamontagne moved to South Africa in 2005, when her husband started a non-governmental organization there for entrepreneurs, but she still spends summers in Maine. She has worked as a food consultant for the Protea Hotel group and various upscale game camps.

After speaking with the Maine Sunday Telegram from her summer home, Lamontagne planned to go dumpster diving in New York to film a documentary for her website,

Q: So who's cooking in game reserves?

A: Usually, there's a young chef who has some sort of knowledge, but most of the prep work and a lot of the people who are cooking are from the villages around the camps. The bush camps are expensive. It's mostly North Americans and Europeans, and they want to eat good foods, and a lot of them are somewhat picky.

We get a list before we start about what are your preferences and what are you allergic to, and what can you eat? It's amazing how many people are either gluten-free or gluten-intolerant or don't eat this, don't eat that.

And we only get food delivered once a week, so you really have to be creative with the way you create your menus. Often, there will be a last-minute booking where the person is allergic to everything. It's happened so many times, and you have to really go through the fridges, the cupboards, and say, "OK, what are we going to do this week?" And you can't repeat as well, right?

Most of these villagers who are living around the camps don't really eat Western food, so I started to realize that a lot of them were cooking, but they had no idea what they were cooking. They didn't want to taste it. Part of my whole belief system is that anything you make, you need to taste. And so I got people to tasting and understanding why you do one thing or another. And then they taught me things as well with different recipes they had, and I started to work with them and incorporate their ideas and my ideas. It's been a great journey, actually.

Q: It kind of sounds like what they call "glamping" now. Glamorous camping.

A: It is. People will pay up to $1,000 a night to stay in these game reserves. They get fed four to five meals a day, so you really have to be on your game. Rusk in the morning is something that's very typically South African. That's a really hard biscuit that you dip in coffee, and it sort of fortifies you. Everybody has a different recipe for that. That's how you start the day, and then fruits and tea when you stop to have a little break. Then you come back, and you have a major brunch/lunch thing. And then you have a nap for four hours, and you come back and have another lunch/tea with cakes.

(Continued on page 2)

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